DAVIE — In 2003, frustrated by poverty and neglect, two Darfurian rebel groups launched an uprising against the Khartoum government. The government responded with a campaign to arm and bankroll militias against the innocent civilians of Darfur.
The Darfur genocide has killed more than 300,000 civilians and displaced 2.5 million people from their homes, according to Mark Davidheiser, Ph.D., an assistant professor to the Department of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at Nova Southeastern University's graduate school of humanities and social sciences.
Another 200,000 Darfur civilians have been forced into neighboring Chad, he said.
Davidheiser and other NSU experts participated in "Darfur Calling," a four-day symposium on the history of Darfur, its current challenges, and the difficulties in providing humanitarian aid to the region.
The panel's focus during a Sept. 8 discussion was on finding a way to end the genocide and to stabilize the region.
The symposium, presented by NSU's Department of Conflict Analysis, and the Inter-American Center for Human Rights of Shepard Broad Law Center at NSU, was scheduled for Sept. 8-12 at the university's main campus in Davie.
"I've seen a lot of things happen in Sudan," Davidheiser said. "They don't build or provide; they just take. The people in Darfur are suffering. In each region that provides oil, the people should get work.
But right now, China is bringing in its own workers and drivers. Of course, this causes a problem. Many of the attacks are about the oil.''
Dustin Berna, Ph.D., another assistant professor in NSU's Department of Conflict Analysis, said, " Sudan should copy an Iranian-style democracy, not an American-type democracy based in capitalism."
There have been news reports that General Martin Luther Agwai, the outgoing military commander of the joint U.N.-African Union, declared that no war is going on in Darfur.
Abubakr Elnoor, an NSU doctoral student, strongly disagreed.
"It's still going on," said Elnoor, a Darfur native who moved to the United States to further his studies and to escape the crisis. "People are dying, women are being raped. And some refuse to call it genocide. The African Union discusses its own interest. To them, only to them, is the war over.
Genocide or not, this has to stop."
Elnoor, an attorney and civil rights activist, witnessed a battle in which nine people close to him were killed, including his grandmother and several cousins. His parents have been displaced to a refugee camp.
"The local governments don't do anything good for their own people," Elnoor continued. "It's just more conflict and killing, yet South Africa has its independence and is doing so well."
Elnoor also cited corruption as a huge problem in Africa as a whole.
"Nigeria would be number one; Sudan, number two. Conflict creates situations conducive to corruption."
Berna said that the government "woos" the poorest of the poor, and "that fuels corruption."
He said his solution, in part, is to "build schools; put money into resources that will help the people."
Despite international outrage and demands to end the brutality, the deadly conflict continues. Darfur remains one of the world's worst human rights and humanitarian catastrophes, experts say.
The need for intervention, according to Davidheiser, is "such a dilemma. What is intervention and when does it become sovereignty? If you leave the door open, many will suffer."
Berna added that intervention will never happen because "we [the U.S.] can't afford it. No politician will propose it because he or she will never be re-elected."
The arguments and blaming of others, Elnoor said, has to end.
"We need a peaceful solution so we can live together," he said. "Before 2003, we co-existed without trouble."
Photo: Abubakr Elnoor
IF YOU GO
WHAT: A symposium titled "Darfur Calling" on the crisis in Darfur.
WHEN: Through Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009. On Sept. 12 from 10 a.m. to noon: "How You Can Answer the Call,'' a presentation and discussion on the history of Sudan and the crisis in Darfur.
Also on Sept. 12 from 2 to 4 p.m.: "Moving Forward,'' a film screening of the documentary Familiar Voices and a discussion with the filmmaker, Danny Mendoza.
WHERE: The Knight Auditorium in the Carl DeSantis Building on Nova Southeastern University's main campus, 3301 College Ave., Davie.
COST: Free and open to the public.
CONTACT: For more information on the symposium, visit www.nova.edu/darfur or call 954-262-6254.