Darfur — The perpetuation of the war in Darfur and economic distress in Sudan has prompted people to seek out alternative resources outside the control of the government. A new study released by the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), which advocates and monitors human rights in Sudan, examined the 'war economy in Darfur', focusing on the cross-border trade in vehicles which the study asserts is partly fuelled by gold in the pockets of Darfur's armed militias.
The study suggests: "The gold trade puts more than $123 million annually into the pockets of armed militias in Darfur. That is on top of $54 million taken in by the Musa Hilal militia. From 2010 to 2014, some $4.5 billion worth of gold was smuggled from Sudan to the United Arab Emirates."
The study argues: "Starting in 1989, the Sudanese economy began to lose its memberships in the major economic organizations. That came on the heels of efforts to implement what was called an Islamic economic system, although it was nothing but slogans for which the political Islam project could find no precedents for practical application. In addition, the economy suffered the impact of neglect of agricultural, pastoral and forest resources.
"Later, by the year 1997, Sudan had come to depend on oil as a basic resource. Oil revenues were shrouded in secrecy under the control of an influential group within the ruling party. However, revenues were allocated to finance armed struggles against the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, and later against armed opposition movements in the Darfur region."
The study reads: "It was against this backdrop that economic distress took hold, and people began to seek out alternative resources outside the control of the government. Mining for gold was one of the alternatives. It was pursued in many parts of Sudan, but the most important of the fields was the Jabal Amir mine in the Darfur region. It remained open to all until 2013 when it became a proprietary field.
"Informal miners outside the actual field found their way to the desert border area shared by Niger, Chad and Libya, the Tibesti mountain region. A series of substantial deals were struck among miners, the Chadian opposition and the Boko Haram terrorist group to trade the gold for vehicles. The Chadian government soon took notice and began to combat the phenomenon."