Sudan: key dates in Darfur war

Sudan: key dates in Darfur war
A timeline of the decades-long Darfur conflict as the UN and AU's long-running peacekeeping mission came to an end.
3 min read
31 December, 2020
The peace-keeping mission has ended [Getty]

The United Nations and African Union's long-running peacekeeping mission in Darfur came to an end Thursday, under a peace deal signed by Sudan's government and rebels.

According to the UN, the brutal civil war in Darfur that erupted in 2003 killed at least 300,000 people, mostly in the first years, and displaced 2.5 million.

2003: rebels take up arms
Rebels of the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) take up arms, accusing the Khartoum government of marginalising the vast Darfur region of western Sudan.

In February, rebels seize northern Darfur's main town of Gulu.

The state-backed Janjaweed militia -- a group of mostly Arab raiders travelling by horseback, camels and armoured pickups -- enter the fray.

2007: international force
A hybrid AU-UN force, called UNAMID, takes over from an African force that has been posted in the region since 2004.

In 2008, more than 220 people are killed when JEM rebels attack Omdurman, the capital's twin city, travelling hundreds of kilometres (miles) from Darfur to the edge of Khartoum.

2009: arrest warrants
The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) issues an arrest warrant for Sudan's then-president Omar al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

It issues another warrant the next year for genocide.

In 2010, heavy fighting resumes after an accord with one faction of the SLM breaks down.

More than 2,300 people were killed in 2010, the UN reports.

2011: Revolutionary Front
In November, Darfur's rebels form an alliance committed to regime change.

Sudan accuses newly-independent South Sudan of working with the JEM, and of backing rebels in its South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions. Juba denies the accusations.

2014: abuses
In March, the UN criticises restrictions imposed on humanitarian workers in Darfur and an increase in the number of displaced people.

In November, Bashir calls for a planned withdrawal of the force, after peacekeepers probe accusations of gang rape by Sudanese soldiers.

2016: ceasefire
In a controversial April referendum, the division of Darfur into five states is maintained.

In June, the government declares a unilateral ceasefire.

In August, negotiations break down between Khartoum and rebels.

In September, Amnesty International accuses Khartoum of carrying out several chemical weapon attacks in Darfur. Khartoum denies the charges.

2019: Bashir ousted, talks
On April 11, Bashir is ousted by the military and detained, after four months of mass anti-regime protests.

In August, new authorities tasked with preparing the way for civilian rule vow to restore peace to conflict-ridden regions, including Darfur.

Sudanese prosecutors in December open a probe into crimes allegedly committed in Darfur from 2003.

On January 24, 2020, a coalition of rebel groups signs a preliminary agreement with the government.

On February 11, a top Sudanese official says Bashir will be handed over to the ICC.

2020: Janjaweed's Kushayb hands himself in
In June, the Janjaweed militia's Ali Kushayb, wanted since 2007, turns himself in to the ICC.

A Sudanese prosecutor says that Bashir's extradition to the ICC is not necessary.

Peace accord
On August 31, government and most rebels groups meeting in Juba ink an accord aimed at ending 17 years of civil war.

The deal is signed on October 31.

ICC in Khartoum
On October 19 during a visit to Khartoum, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda explores options for putting on trial those accused in the conflict.

Washington announces on November 2 it will seek to end UN sanctions on Sudan.

UNAMID withdrawal
On December 23, the UN Security Council agrees to end UNAMID's now 8,000-strong mission in Darfur when its mandate ceases on December 31.

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