A timeline of the Darfur crisis and the response of the international community

2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 


February: The first rebel attacks.

July: Janjaweed counteroffensive begins.

September: The first in a series of ceasefires between the government and rebels is agreed, but both sides accuse one another of violations.


January: Major government offensive.

March: UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan Mukesh Kapila compares the situation in Darfur to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

April: UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Jan Egeland, says a coordinated, “scorched earth” campaign of “ethnic cleansing” is taking place.

Representatives of the rebel groups and the government sign a ceasefire and protocol on the establishment of humanitarian assistance in N’djamena.

25 May: The African Union Peace and Security Council calls on the Commission to take all necessary measures to ensure effective implementation of the April 8 ceasefire agreement, including deployment of an African Union Mission in Darfur.

9 June: The first six AU military observers are deployed to the Ceasefire Commission in Darfur and U.S. Congress described Darfur as “genocide.”

22 July: The United States Senate terms the unfolding atrocities in Darfur “genocide.”

30 July: The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) endorses deployment of the African Union Mission in Darfur (AMIS).

August: The African Union deploys the first set of Rwanda troops in Darfur, tasked with monitoring the ceasefire.

AU sponsored peace talks begin in Abuja, Nigeria, between the government of Sudan and the rebel movements, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

September: The UNSC adopts Resolution 1564 which institutes an International Commission of Inquiry for Darfur and threatens sanctions.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Juan Mendez, visit Darfur. Arbour describes the IDP camps she visited as “prisons without walls.”

November: The parties at the Abuja talks agree on two new protocols: the Improvement of the Security Situation in Darfur and the Improvement of the Humanitarian Situation in Darfur.


9 January: The Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the government of Sudan and the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA) is signed to end the North-South conflict which had plagued Sudan since its independence.

25 January: The International Commission of Inquiry mandated by Resolution 1564 releases its report. The Commission said it could not make a determination that genocide was occurring because they were unable to establish the requisite intent to destroy a group. The Commission recommended that the situation in Darfur be referred to the International Criminal Court for investigation.

24 March: The UNSC adopts Resolution 1590, creating the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) mandated to work towards implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Included in their mandate is a request that they “liaise with the African Union Mission in Sudan.”

29 March: The UNSC adopts Resolution 1591, imposing sanctions, including a travel ban and freezing of assets, on individuals who impede the peace process and who have violated previous SC resolutions.

31 March: The UNSC adopts Resolution 1593, referring the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court for investigation and opening the way for international prosecutions of those most responsible for the violence in Darfur.

28 April: African Union increases its deployment in Darfur to a capacity of 7,731 troops.

6 June: The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court decides to open an investigation into the situation in Darfur.

7 June: The Government of Sudan established the Special Criminal Court on the Events in Darfur.

31 July: Sudanese Vice President and leader of the Southern SPLA dies in a helicopter crash.

December: Chadian rebels attack the town of Adré and Chad declares it is in a state of war with Sudan.


January 2006: African Union decides against transfer of AU Presidency to Sudan.

10 March: The African Union Peace and Security Council decides to support a transition to a United Nations peacekeeping force in Darfur.

26 April: The UNSC passes Resolution 1672 naming the first four individuals to whom the sanctions provided for in Resolution 1591 of March 2005 will apply.

5 May: The government of Sudan and one faction of the Sudan Liberation Army, lead by Minni Minawi, sign the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) in Abuja, Nigeria.

16 May: The UNSC issues Resolution 1679 requesting an assessment mission to evaluate the possibility of a transition from AMIS to a United Nations Mission.

8 June: The African Union Commission for Peace and Security and the AU representation of the Sudan received leaders of the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement, who signed and submitted a Declaration of Commitment to the Darfur Peace Agreement.

27 June: The African Union Peace and Security Council meets, stressing the need to ensure effective functioning of the restructured ceasefire commission. The Council decided to impose sanctions on groups undermining the DPA, and reiterated its strong condemnation for human rights violations in Darfur, including gender based violence.

31 August: The UNSC adopts Resolution 1706, authorizing deployment of 17,300 troops to Darfur to assume the responsibilities currently taken on by the AMIS in relation to implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement. Sudanese President Omar El-Bashir calls the resolution “part of a comprehensive conspiracy for confiscating the country’s sovereignty.”

6 September: French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste Blazy refers to the crisis in Darfur as “genocide.”

17 September: Tens of thousands of people participate in the Global Day for Darfur, which includes more than 60 events in 41 countries.

6 October: AU Peace and Security meets in New York and extends the mandate of the AU mission in Sudan to 31st December.

11 October: U.N. Security Council Panel of Experts reports all parties in violation of an arms embargo in Darfur.

13 October: US President George Bush signs the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act (DPAA) into law.

22 October: Jan Pronk, UN Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in the Sudan, is asked to leave Sudan within 72 hours.

3 November: Sudanese President Omar El-Bashir, on the occasion of a summit of Chinese and African leaders in Beijing, reiterates his refusal to accept UN peacekeepers, arguing such a deployment would be equivalent to the US invasion of Iraq.

10 November: The Norwegian Refugee Council is forced to shut down its relief operations in Darfur, which had served 300,000 IDPs. The agency claims it made the move after its activities had been suspended two months prior by the government without a clear reason.

17 November: At an international summit in Addis Ababa, the Sudanese government “agrees in principle” to a hybrid operation with a “predominantly African character [but] backstopping and command and control structures provided by the UN.” Final agreement is said to be contingent upon clarification of the numbers of troops involved.

1 December: The African Union extends the mandate of AMIS.

4 December: Militias attack the cattle market in El-Fasher causing increased tension in the city and rumours of a large scale attack.

10 December: Thousands of people around the world take action in a series of events intended to show solidarity with the women of Darfur.


11 January: UN Secretary-General’s Special envoy for Darfur, Jan Eliasson, visits AMIS Headquarters.

27 February: The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) presents evidence against the first suspects in his investigation of mass atrocities in Darfur.

7 March: High Level Mission of the Human Rights Council submits its report on Darfur after a month of investigation. The report sharply criticised Sudan for its role in continuing the conflict in Darfur.

30 March: UN Human Rights Council in Geneva adopted a resolution in which they voiced their “…deep concern regarding the seriousness of the ongoing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Darfur…,” and called upon the parties to the conflict to bring an end to the crisis.

16 April: Sudanese government agrees to accept the deployment of some 3,000 United Nations troops to bolster the struggling AU mission in Darfur.

26 April: The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, visits refugee camps in Darfur.

29 April: The third Global Day for Darfur is marked around the world. The theme: Time is Up! resonated across the world in different cities with hourglasses symbolically emphasising the need to act quickly and decisively.

8 May: UN Secretary-General and AU Chair of the Commission appointed Rodolphe Adada of the Congo as Joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur, in keeping with the 16 November 2006 high-level meeting in Addis Ababa on the situation in Darfur. The Special Representative will have overall authority over the peacekeeping mission in Darfur, in addition to overseeing the implementation of its mandate, its management and functioning.

18 May: In a press conference with his AU counterpart, the UN Special Envoy for Darfur highlighted the plight of the refugees in the camps after returning from his third visit to Darfur, emphasizing the fear, dehumanization and fatigue he witnessed.

19 May: A meeting on the situation in Darfur is held between the French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Secretary of State for European Affairs, ministry departments and representatives of NGOs in a bid to prioritise Darfur with regard to the humanitarian situation and the deployment of a hybrid UN-AU force as well as a political solution.

25 May: UN officer from Egypt deployed in El-Fasher in support of the African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS) is killed. 

26-28 May: A consultative meeting of African parliamentarians was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Parliamentarians from 10 countries attend and produce a communiqué that calls for parliaments of AU states to be more engaged in the Darfur conflict and proposes a mechanism for review.

28 May: Armed hijacking of a UN convoy in El-Fasher in which three vehicles were stolen and passengers robbed.

29 May: American President George Bush orders new economic sanctions that target government-run companies involved in Sudan’s oil industry, three individuals and a rebel leader suspected of being involved in the violence in Darfur with the hope that they will pressure Khartoum to resolve the crisis.

7 June: Luis Moreno Ocampo, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, urged the Security Council to take the lead in calling on the Khartoum Government to arrest Humanitarian Affairs Minister Ahmed Haroun and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abd al-Rahman, also known as Ali Kushayb. They are wanted on 51 counts of war crimes.

11-12 June: Sudanese government accepts UN-AU hybrid force in a high-level meeting in Addis Ababa with the condition that the troops be primarily from African countries.

31 July: The UN Security Council unanimously approves resolution 1769, authorizing deployment of UNAMID.

6 August: Consultations between the AU and the UN Special Envoys for Darfur, Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim and Mr. Jan Eliasson and leading personalities of the Darfur Movements conclude in Arusha, Tanzania with the issue of a Communiqué announcing the agreement of common platform on power sharing, wealth sharing, security arrangements, land/hawakeer and humanitarian issues, for the final negotiations.

23 August: Nuala Lawlor, the acting chargé d’affaires for Canada in Sudan, and her European Union counterpart are expelled from Sudan. No reason is given, but it is believed that Lawlor was accused by the Sudanese government of meddling in Sudan’s internal affairs.  Consequently, Canada expels a Sudanese diplomat.

18 September: JEM states that if the peace talks with Khartoum fail, they will step up their demands from self-determination to independence for the Darfur region.

30 September: The rebels overrun an AMIS base, killing at least 12 peacekeepers during an attack on the African mission at the end of the Ramadan season.

11 October: The Sudan Popular Liberation Movement, the political wing of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, withdrew from the government, accusing Khartoum of failing to honor the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which brought and end to the war between North and South.

27 October: A new round of peace negotiations opens in Sirte, Libya but the failure of key figures, including SLA leader Abdelwahid Al-nur and JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim soon stalls the talks.

15 November: Nine rebel groups (six SLM factions, the Democratic Popular Front, the Sudanese Revolutionary Front and the Justice and Equality Movement-Field Revolutionary Command, a splinter faction of JEM) signed a Charter of Unification and agreed to operate under the same SLM/A command and control structures. Influential SLA Unity faction leader Abdelwahid Al-nur does not participate.

December: The Sudan Popular Liberation Movement resumes participation in the national unity government.


January: The joint United Nations-African Union hybrid force (UNAMID) takes over peacekeeping responsibilities in Darfur from the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS).

January: Sudanese troops fire on a UNAMID convoy.

20 February: A new Sudanese offensive by government soldiers and Arab militias against Darfur rebels traps thousands of refugees alongside the border with Chad.

22 April: The United Nations reports a death toll of 300,000 after five years of conflict.

April: Counting begins a national census, which will determine the basis of calculation for power sharing and wealth distribution programs critical to the success of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The census is considered extremely controversial as large parts of Darfur cannot feasibly be covered and rains and violence in some areas of the South and Abyei hindered counting.

10 May: Sudanese government soldiers and rebels from Darfur’s Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) clash in the city of Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city across the Nile, over control of military headquarters.  Sudan accuses Chad of involvement and breaks off diplomatic relations.  A curfew is imposed on Khartoum.  Soldiers, policemen, rebels and civilians are among the dead.  Many residents are picked up, questioned and held in custody.

May: Intense fighting breaks out between northern and southern forces in the disputed oil-rich town of Abyei.

28 June: Djibril Bassolé, Foreign Minister of Burkina Faso, is chosen as joint AU-UN mediator for the AU-UN peace talks, replacing the joint team of Salim Ahmed Salim and Jan Eliasson.

11 July: The representatives of North and South Sudan refer resolution of the border demarcation in the contested Abyei region to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague.

14 July: The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court presents evidence implicating Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir in crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.

17 October: Sudanese President Bashir, holds a meeting on the Darfur conflict with a call for a national vision for peace, but rebels stayed away, dismissing the meeting as a sham. Rebel groups, including JEM and the Sudan Liberation Movement-Unity, claimed that the conference was used to avoid persecution of the ICC and garner support against the impending indictment.

29 October: Addressing the 10th Ordinary session of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) in Johannesburg South Africa, the Chairman of the African Union and President of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, dismissed the principle of non-interference in domestic affairs among African countries as old and no longer acceptable.  Mentioning Darfur, Kikwete spoke of the collective responsibility of all African countries to ensure democracy and economic prosperity in all areas of the continent and the importance of the AU Peace and Security force to address significant problems.

23 December: Ted Chaiban, the head of UNICEF in Sudan, says that there are as many as 6,000 child soldiers, some as young as 11 years old, in Darfur.  These children, who are often forcibly recruited but also volunteer, are linked to various rebel movements, militias backed by the government and fight alongside the Sudanese army.


6 February: After three weeks of fighting, including bombing from Khartoum, Sudan’s army captures the strategic south Darfur town of Muhajiriya which was previously held by the insurgent JEM. 30 people are said to have been killed in the conflict.

11 February: Gen Mohamed, who is the Commander of Operations in the Tanzania Peoples Defence Forces said that his country will soon deploy its first peacekeeping contingent to the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan. Tanzania was expected to deploy 1,000 troops to Darfur as part of the hybrid mission by the African Union and United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) starting in March. 

17 February: The Sudanese government and JEM rebels sign a declaration of goodwill with confidence building measures, expressing their willingness to engage in a peace process.  One of the main issues that ended the deadlock during negotiations was an agreement on the release of JEM prisoners of war. 

4 March: The International Criminal Court issues an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur – its first action against a sitting head of state.  Although ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo included the crime of genocide in his presentation of evidence, the three-judge panel determined there was insufficient evidence to support this charge. 

March: The Sudanese government expels 13 international humanitarian NGOs and revokes the registration of three national organisations

18 March: A high-level African Union Darfur Panel is established and assigned the task of developing a formula that would reconcile calls for justice in Darfur with the need to heal the wounds of war. The panel’s chairman is former South African President Thabo Mbeki.  The panel’s three part mandate is: first, come up with a proposal for expediting the peace process in Darfur. Second, advise the African Union on how to face the challenge of dealing with war crimes and those who commit them. Third, to find a way to achieve reconciliation among the region’s warring parties.  Efforts to achieve these daunting tasks began with an opening session that heard strong calls for a deferment of the ICC’s war crimes indictment against Sudanese President Bashir. The panel will report to the African Union Summit in July.

18 March: President Barack Obama appoints Major General J. Scott Gration, a Swahili-speaking retired Air Force officer who grew up in Africa as the son of missionaries, as the U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan. 

20 March: Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)’s Khalil Ibrahim announces the end of peace talks with the Sudanese government due to Khartoum’s expulsion of 13 international NGOs from Sudan.  Only after President Bashir allows these organizations to return to Sudan and provide aid in Darfur and other war ravaged areas will JEM return to the talks.  This announcement severely hinders the peace process that began in February with a declaration of goodwill between the groups.