In 2007, Waging Peace, a human rights NGO, travelled to refugee camps in eastern Chad to meet those who had fled the systematic violence perpetuated by the Sudanese government and allied Arab militias against mainly black African civilians in Darfur in the mid-2000s. The group gave children pencils and paper and asked them to draw their experiences.
“These drawings show what happens when the international community turns its back on children facing genocide,” said Olivia Warham, director of Waging Peace. “They attest to the need for greater international attention and commitment to the human rights situation in Darfur and Sudan.”
In 2003, rebel groups in Darfur took up arms to protest against the government’s systematic marginalization; the government responded by sending troops and supporting militias, known as the janjaweed, who systematically burned and bombed villages of black Africans in Darfur and raped and killed civilians. In Nov. 2007, the drawings Waging Peace collected were shown to the International Criminal Court as evidence of the crimes committed in the Darfur conflict. In 2009, the court indicted Sudanese President Omar Bashir on charges of genocide and war crimes.
Now, after traveling the world, the children’s drawings will be part of a permanent collection at the Wiener Library, a center for Holocaust and genocide education, which opens Wednesday in London.
5. Here a young girl from Darfur shows the moment her village was attacked by Sudanese government forces in pick-up trucks and Janjaweed militia on horse and camel back.
6. This drawing depicts an attack by Sudanese government forces, forcing villagers to flee their burning homes.
7. Here a young boy drew Sudanese government forces attacking his village in Darfur with pick-up trucks, tanks, and helicopters, while a mother and two children flee.
8. Here a child drew a massive attack on a refugee camp. A helicopter drops bombs that burn huts and kills and wounds residents, who try to flee amid the gunfire.
9. Here armed janjaweed militia and soldiers attack villagers with spears. The child depicts the attackers and attacked has having different skin colors, a sign of the conflict’s complicated identity politics.
11. This young boy drew how the army and Janjaweed attacked his primary school with a land cruiser and helicopters as ground troops moved in with machine guns. They set the village on fire and people fled in all directions.
12. This child drew a helicopter and tanks attacking a village. A woman tries to flee as a child is shot.
13. This child drew tents and water pumps in a refugee camp in Eastern Chad for those who fled Darfur.
14. Here a child drew an attack on his house, which he signed with his name. Below, there is a hut, where the boy draws a rape taking place.
15. In this picture a helicopter drops bombs on a village as people sleep. An armored vehicle then shoots at villagers as they flee.
“This is still a live issue — the situation in Darfur is worsening,” Warham said.
The violence is Darfur has returned to the worst levels since 2003-2004, the height of the genocide, monitoring groups have warned. The U.N. has acknowledged that Sudanese officials have repeatedly prevented peacekeepers from reaching areas of conflict and protecting citizens. The U.N. has also criticized the Sudanese armed forces for continuing “alleged criminal acts” and aerial bombardment campaigns on civilians; since February 2014, 320,000 people have fled attacks led by the Sudanese armed forces and the affiliated gunmen, according to the U.N.
In Darfur, 3.5 million of the population’s estimated 6 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. Despite these dire circumstances, humanitarian and aid agencies, as well as journalists, remain highly restrained in and at risk of expulsion for their work.