The conflict in Darfur forced about 2.5 million persons, approximately one-third of the entire regional population, to abandon their homes and settle in large refugee camps. Over a dozen employees of international aid organizations have been killed in the violence. One of the most difficult things about providing assistance to the people of Darfur was simply getting to the hotspots. Darfur region is located in the middle of the African continent, just below the Sahara Desert.
Ships carrying food aid for Darfur were docking at ports on three sides of the continent - in Cameroon on the Atlantic, in Libya on the Mediterranean and to the east at Port Sudan on the Red Sea. Once the humanitarian food supplies arrived in Africa, they had to be trucked over large land area in all-terrain vehicles. Problem is the fact that during the rainy seasons the land routes to refugee camps in Chad and Sudan became impassable. Many refugee camps are still located around major cities and towns. They are full of Darfuris which fled from violence in their home villages to seek shelter in camps for displaced people.
It is incredible that after five years of conflict the camps still continue to see new arrivals. Moreover, sexual and physical assaults on camp residents continue to be reported on a daily basis. The lack of security has greatly worsened the already meager livelihoods of the affected populations. The effort to assist the population of Darfur affected by the war has become one of the largest modern day humanitarian relief operations.
The United States government remains one of the biggest donors of humanitarian aid to Darfur. The humanitarian operations involve provision of food, nutrition, shelter, clean water, sanitation, health care, education, protection, and income- generating activities. The working environment in Darfur is extremely volatile and dangerous, and is one of the most challenging to operate in anywhere in the world.
Death toll and International Criminal Court involvement
The United Nations puts the death toll at roughly 300,000, while the former U.N. undersecretary-general puts the number at no less than 400,000. In April 2007, the Judges of the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants against the former Minister of State for the Interior, Ahmed Haroun, and a Janjaweed leader, Ali Kushayb, for crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Sudan Government said that the International Criminal Court had no jurisdiction to try Sudanese citizens and that it would not hand the two men over to authorities in Hague.
In July, 2010, Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir was finally charged by Hague for orchestrating Darfur genocide, three counts of genocide in Darfur by the International Criminal Court. He is the first incumbent head of state charged with crimes in the Rome Statute. It is expected that President al-Bashir will not face trial in The Hague until he is apprehended in a nation which accepts the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction.