As the conflict in Darfur enters its sixth year, conditions continue to deteriorate for civilians. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, even by the most conservative estimates. 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.Up to 2.5 million Darfuris have fled their homes and continue to live in camps throughout Darfur, or in refugee camps in neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic.
Based on Sudan’s behavior over the past five years, it is clear that unless the international community imposes additional political costs for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s intransigence, his government will continue to buy time by accepting initiatives only to backtrack later or impose new conditions that render them useless.
Humanitarian assistance in Darfur continues to be at risk of collapse, in part because of sustained harassment by the Sudanese government, and in part because of the government’s militia allies and common criminals. In September 2006, the United Nations estimated that such a collapse would cause up to 100,000 civilian deaths every month.Troublesome developments suggest that such a failure is becoming more likely: the World Food Program’s Humanitarian Air Service received no funding in the first three months of 2008. Last-minute donations totaling six million dollars funded it through the beginning of May.