As genocide continues, does reconciliation wait for peace?

Forgiving and being reconciled to our enemies or our loved ones are not about pretending that things are other than they are. It is not about patting one another on the back and turning a blind eye to the wrong. True reconciliation exposes the awfulness, the abuse, the hurt, the truth. It could even sometimes make things worse. It is a risky undertaking but in the end it is worthwhile, because in the end only an honest confrontation with reality can bring real healing. Superficial reconciliation can bring only superficial healing.
– Desmond Tutu

Genocide in Darfur, a decade on, continues.

A recent New York Times article, New Strife in Darfur Leaves Many Seeking Refuge, tells us that by no means are things getting better with “fighting since the beginning of the year… displacing nearly 300,000 people, more than in the last two years combined….”

In a recent interview, former UN senior official, Mukesh Kapila, talks about its beginning in 2003. Here is part of his answer when asked about the moment he knew he had to go outside of UN channels:

I filed my reports to HQ in New York, I shared my information with the diplomatic community in Khartoum, I made representations to the Sudanese authorities. Nobody was interested in taking much notice. It was in the ‘unwelcome news’ category, and the excuse was we don’t want to antagonize Khartoum. We just need to get a good north-south peace agreement, the land will flow with milk and honey and the problems will end. But I knew John Garang, leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (the rebel group in neighbouring South Sudan), was going to delay signing until Darfur was sorted out. He told me to travel the world and tell people that.

Then a representative in the office of the Sudanese president told me they were working on “the final solution in Darfur.” This was the government admitting they were embarking on a genocidal policy in Darfur. So I said OK, I need to discuss this with policy-makers. I got briefings in London and New York, where I saw satellite images confirming everything we suspected. I said, “You know more than I do — why are you not doing anything?” They said, “It’s not a good time. Get humanitarian aid in — concentrate on that.” I said, “Are you kidding? They are talking about final solutions, we need a political process here.”

It’s really an incredible piece, well worth reading in its entirety, Darfur after 10 years: ‘My job is not done’, says Mukesh Kapila.

As a genocide continues into the long-term, does the reconciliation effort have to wait for peace to begin? Or does it need to begin in order for peace to occur? In Unity and reconciliation necessary for sustainable peace in Darfur, Adeeb Yousif begins with this:

The biggest challenge in the Darfur conflict today is divisions. These divisions have created misunderstanding and mistrust within Darfurian society. Moreover they have and are still playing a negative role in the region, making peace difficult to achieve. Therefore I am suggesting a regional unity and reconciliation between all entities as well as tribes in Darfur, as a step toward sustainable peace. One school of thought in conflict resolution argues that reconciliation process needs to begin after peace. However Kelman Herbert, (2010) pointed out that reconciliation at macro and micro process could start at any time during the conflict. Thereby in this article I propose a plan on peace-making: regional unity and reconciliation between Darfurian as first step, then collectively can fight for lasting peace, in which it address the root causes of the Darfur conflict.

Once again, I would recommend reading it in its entirety.

It seems well-timed, perhaps greatly overdue, to adopt a more reflective approach with regard to Darfur. Certainly, a political solution is necessary, yet a long-overdue component of that is to incorporate the human experiences and need for healing into the process.

How can a traumatized people get beyond the age-old mindset that justice equates to revenge and self-survival requires the demise of the ‘other’? How can reconciliation be effective enough to establish unity? How can a common humanity be re-affirmed, even amidst mass atrocities, significant disagreements, betrayals and violations, and untold loss and heartbreaking grief? As the shattering of all that was known and familiar before continues, where can enough safety be found for even a few to begin coming together?

One of the many obstacles, seldom recognized for what it is: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD has long been relegated to the bottom of the priority list, yet, when entire societies are traumatized from long-term conflict, the ability to come together is greatly diminished. Innovative strategies for how to address PTSD in places such as Darfur are an urgent necessity. Only then can the full potential for reconciliation and peace be accessed.


Barbara English is a licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Certified Bioenergetic Therapist (CBT) with over 20 years of experience. She is the Executive Director of Living Ubuntu, a non‐profit organization founded in response to her concern about the effects of mass trauma on populations around the globe. She is also a 2009 Carl Wilkens Fellow.

[Ubuntu] n.
Every human being truly becomes a human by means of relationships with other human being.

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