The UN Responds to the Crisis in Darfur: A Timeline

2003
March – Fighting breaks out in the Darfur region of western Sudan between Government forces and rebels from the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

April – Refugees begin arriving in eastern Chad to escape the conflict. Large numbers of civilians become internally displaced people (IDPs) within Darfur.

September – Refugee numbers in Chad reach 65,000. UN agencies estimate at least 500,000 people in Darfur need humanitarian aid.

4 September – The SLA and the Government reach ceasefire agreement, but both sides soon accuse the other of breaking it.

17 September – Tom Eric Vraalsen, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Envoy for Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan, announces the Greater Darfur Initiative, appealing for $23 million to help those most in need.
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7 October – The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) launches appeal for $16.6 million to help Sudanese refugees in Chad.

November – Government-allied militias launch at least six raids on refugees camped near Chadian-Sudanese border, according to UNHCR. Refugees report they fled similar attacks in Darfur.

7 November – The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warns Darfur is facing its worst humanitarian crisis since 1988. It says access for humanitarian workers is non-existent in some cases.

Early December – A fresh round of attacks by Arab Janjaweed militias – including the burning of villages and the murder and rape of civilians – prompts at least 10,000 new refugees to stream into Chad. Sudanese Government begins policy of restricting humanitarian access by refusing or delaying travel permits to Darfur.
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5 December – Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland says Darfur “has quickly become one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.”
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8 December – Mr. Vraalsen says humanitarian efforts have come to a near standstill because of authorities’ denials of access. After touring the affected area, he says he is shocked about the conditions faced by IDPs.

9 December – Secretary-General Kofi Annan expresses alarm over human rights violations and the lack of humanitarian access. More than a million people estimated to need aid, including about 600,000 displaced persons.
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23 December – UN High Commissioner for Refugees unveils plans to build safe camps in Chad away from the border with Sudan, where militias continue to conduct attacks. Almost 100,000 refugees are now in Chad.
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2004
7 January – Mr. Vraalsen travels to the Chadian capital, N’Djamena, to press for the resumption of peace talks between Khartoum and the SLA and for humanitarian workers to be allowed greater access. He warns that the situation is deteriorating.
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13 January – The World Food Programme (WFP) calls for $11 million to help 60,000 of the refugees living in Chad.
15 January – Mr. Vraalsen appeals for $4.3 million to help the refugees in Chad.

17 January – UNHCR staff begin relocating refugees to the first safe camp away from the border. The new camp, near the town of Farchana, can house between 9,000 and 12,000 people.

Late January – The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) begins an anti-measles vaccination campaign and a vitamin A distribution scheme inside Darfur.

23 January – At least 18,000 refugees enter Chad in one week as militia attacks inside Darfur intensify.

5 February – WFP steps up its operations in eastern Chad to help growing number of hungry refugees.

7 February – UNHCR opens second safe camp for refugees in Chad.

10 February – Mr Egeland calls for a rapid humanitarian response as he welcomes pledge by Sudanese President Omer Al Bashir to grant aid workers easier access to civilians.
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February – UN agencies step up humanitarian support to refugees in Chad. IDPs in Darfur report that aid from the UN and non-government organizations is being stolen routinely by militias.

18 February – Mr. Egeland announces deployment of UN Disaster and Assessment Coordination Team (UNDAC) team to Darfur.

2 March – UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers arrives in N’Djamena for talks with Chadian officials at start of tour of affected region. He later visits refugee camps.
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19 March – Mr. Vraalsen describes Darfur situation as “one of the worst in the world.” In a media interview, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan Mukesh Kapila says the situation in Darfur is comparable to what happened in the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

30 March – OCHA reports that militia attacks are occurring daily across whole of Darfur, and warns of outbreaks of infectious diseases in IDP camps.

31 March – The Secretary-General issues a statement saying he is disturbed by the continuing conflict, its impact on civilians and the ongoing problems with humanitarian access. He welcomes the start of peace talks in N’Djamena.
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2 April – After briefing the Security Council, Mr. Egeland says a coordinated, “scorched-earth” campaign of ethnic cleansing by Janjaweed militias against Darfur’s black African population is taking place. The Council issues a presidential statement expressing its concern about the humanitarian situation and calling for a ceasefire.
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3 April – In a joint statement, the Secretary-General and the heads of all UN agencies, funds and programmes express their deepest concern over the serious human rights and humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
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6 April – Fact-finding team from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, at request of Acting High Commissioner Bertrand Ramcharan, begins mission to Chad to investigate reports of human rights abuses.
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7 April – Marking 10th anniversary of the start of the Rwandan genocide, Mr. Annan says reports from Sudan fill him with foreboding that a similar tragedy could happen in Darfur and he calls on the international community to act.
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8 April – The Secretary-General hails the signing of a humanitarian ceasefire agreement between Khartoum and the SLA and JEM.
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9 April – Revising the Sudan appeal to $115 million, Mr. Egeland calls for a generous international response.

22 April – A second UN human rights fact-finding mission arrives in Khartoum to investigate alleged abuses in Darfur.

28 April – Senior officials from UN agencies, led by WFP Executive Director James T. Morris and including Mr. Vraalsen, begin tour of Darfur to assess humanitarian needs.
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4 May – Following visit, Mr. Morris and other senior UN officials describe the Darfur situation as one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. The number of IDPs estimated to now be above one million.

7 May – Mr. Morris briefs Security Council on his recent visit, saying there are “extreme levels of violence and fear” in Darfur. Mr. Ramcharan briefs on the results of the two human rights reports – they find that the Sudanese Government and its proxy Arab militias have carried out massive human rights violations which “may constitute war crimes and/or crimes against humanity.”
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13 May – Mr. Annan writes to President Al Bashir, urging him to disarm the Janjaweed militias, maintain the ceasefire, improve access for humanitarian workers and negotiate a settlement to the conflict in Darfur. News Story

14 May – UNHCR pleads for more funds to help Sudanese refugees in Chad, whose numbers have topped 120,000. At least 68,000 of the refugees have been transferred to six camps further inside Chad.

Mid-May – UN agencies speed up relief efforts in Darfur and Chad in a bid to beat the arrival of the annual rainy season, when many roads become impassable.

17 May – The Secretary-General meets Sudan’s Permanent Representative to the UN to raise concerns about obstacles to humanitarian access such as visa delays and slow customs clearances.

20 May – OCHA says all funds have been exhausted and there are shortfalls of food, water and health care services. Sudanese Government announces measures to improve humanitarian access.

21 May – Mr. Annan welcomes the Sudanese Government’s announcement that aid workers wanting to travel to Darfur will receive entry visas quickly and will no longer need travel permits for the area.
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25 May – Expressing its deep concern about reports of human rights abuses, the Security Council issues a presidential statement calling on Khartoum to neutralize and disarm the Janjaweed.
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26 May – While welcoming moves towards peace in the long-running civil war in southern Sudan, Mr. Annan urges progress in resolving the Darfur conflict. Briefing the Security Council, Mr. Egeland says Sudan is still imposing some restraints on humanitarian access and the number of people needing relief has been revised up by aid agencies to 2 million.
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27 May – The Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders, Hina Jilani, voices concern about recent treatment of human rights defenders working in Darfur. Mr. Annan’s spokesperson says he stands ready to mediate a settlement in Darfur and is deeply concerned about the situation there. Mr. Annan writes to President al-Bashir, outlining his continuing concerns and urging him to act.

3 June – At a high-level donor alert meeting in Geneva, UN agencies call for $236 million to alleviate the plight of people in Darfur and Chad.
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4 June – UNICEF begins campaign to vaccinate 2 million children against measles, and at least 100,000 children against polio.

7 June – WFP appeals for $200 million to feed two million people in Darfur and says another $30 million is necessary to help Sudanese refugees in Chad. UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie calls for urgent aid after completing a two-day tour of refugee camps. Mr. Annan welcomes the release of 16 humanitarian workers who had been held by rebels for three days.

8 June – UNHCR relocates nearly 90,000 people to safer camps inside Chad.

11 June – Adopting a resolution about plans to set up a UN mission in southern Sudan, where a peace deal is considered imminent, the Security Council calls on all parties to play their part in trying to end the fighting in Darfur.

14 June – Mr. Egeland says UN agencies remain way behind in providing safe water, immunization, sanitation and nutrition to civilians in Darfur, but are doing better in bringing food and shelter. After completing a tour of the country, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Asma Jahangir, says Sudanese Government forces and the Janjaweed have committed numerous human rights abuses, including the slaughter of civilians in Darfur villages.

17 June – Mr. Annan announces plans to visit Sudan.
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Mid-June – The rainy season arrives, making the delivery of humanitarian relief much harder.

21 June – Mr. Annan says any peace accord in southern Sudan will be fragile unless the conflict in Darfur is resolved.

25 June – At a press conference, Mr. Annan says he will use his upcoming trip to Sudan to press Khartoum to meet its obligations – to protect its civilians and to disarm the Janjaweed. He says the international community must keep up the pressure on Sudan and urges donors to step up their aid. Mr. Annan says the people of Darfur “are suffering a catastrophe” and “terrible crimes have been committed” against them. Asked whether it is genocide or ethnic cleansing, he says “we don’t need a label to propel us to act.”
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30 June – Arriving in Khartoum for a three-day visit to Sudan and Chad, Mr. Annan holds talks with Sudanese Government officials and United States Secretary of State Colin Powell about the situation in Darfur and the obstacles faced by humanitarian workers in distributing aid.

1 July – Mr. Annan promises the residents of camps for internally displaced people in Darfur that they will not be forced to return to their homes until their security can be guaranteed. The Secretary-General travels around Darfur to see first-hand the humanitarian crisis. He later meets Chadian President Idriss Deby for talks in N'Djamena.

2 July – Refugees at a camp in eastern Chad tell Mr. Annan that there have been "gross and systematic" abuses of human rights by the Janjaweed. Later he meets Sudanese President Al Bashir for talks in Khartoum.

3 July – The UN and Sudan sign a joint communiqué in which they both make pledges to alleviate the conflict in Darfur . Khartoum vows to lift all restrictions on humanitarian access, bring to justice those responsible for human rights abuses, disarm the Janjaweed, protect IDPs from further attacks and resume peace talks with the rebels. The UN promises to help the African Union (AU) quickly deploy ceasefire monitors and to provide more humanitarian relief. The two sides also agree to set up a Joint Implementation Mechanism (JIM) to monitor the agreement.

6 July – Mr. Annan tells AU summit in Addis Ababa that the Darfur crisis “could be a prelude to even greater humanitarian catastrophe” across the region.

7 July – Briefing the Security Council by satellite link from Kenya , Mr. Annan describes the situation facing IDPs in Darfur as grave. Later, the Council's President for July, Ambassador Mihnea Ioan Motoc of Romania , calls for sustained pressure on Khartoum to resolve the crisis. Mr. Egeland warns “hundreds of thousands of people may die” if fighting does not stop and the Janjaweed are not disarmed.

9 July – UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food Jean Ziegler expresses concern about the Janjaweed's destruction of food and water sources in West Darfur . UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) vaccinate two million children against measles, but another 500,000 are out of reach because some areas remain too dangerous for health worker

15 July – Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sudan Jan Pronk travels to Khartoum to take part in the first meeting of JIM. The World Food Programme (WFP) reaches agreement with Libya to serve as a humanitarian corridor for delivering emergency supplies to Chad and Darfur .

19 July – UN agencies say Sudanese Government is trying to pressure Darfur 's massive population of IDPs to return to their home villages, even though they remain afraid of Janjaweed attacks. The number of IDPs has swelled by 100,000 in the past month.

21 July: Mr. Annan says the UN has received just $145 million of the $349 million it has requested to help the people of Darfur . He tells press conference that Khartoum has not taken “adequate steps” to meet its pledge to disarm the Janjaweed.

22 July – In joint press conference, Mr. Annan and Mr. Powell call for greater international pressure to make sure Khartoum meets its commitments.

23 July – The leaders of the SLA and JEM agree to substantive peace talks with the Sudanese Government to try to resolve the conflict.

26 July – An observer group of UN staff, Sudanese officials and representatives of concerned countries begin three-day mission to Darfur to inspect conditions in IDP camps and villages that have been attacked by Janjaweed.

29 July – Mr. Annan issues statement sounding alarm about continuing reports of rapes, attacks, acts of intimidation and threats against IDPs, especially in North and West Darfur .

30 July – Security Council adopts resolution, 13-0 with China and Pakistan abstaining, paving the way for action against Sudan if it does not make progress on the pledges it made in the communiqué. Mr. Annan immediately welcomes the move.

2 August – Returning from a weeklong visit to Darfur , Francis Deng, Secretary-General's Representative on IDPs, says it is beset by persistent insecurity and numerous human rights violations. He calls for a Sudanese identity based on inclusiveness and not race, culture or religion.

3 August – Mr. Annan says Khartoum is showing signs it wants to cooperate with the Security Council's resolution.

4 August – The UN will maintain the pressure on Khartoum to meet its commitments to protect IDPs and disarm the Janjaweed until it does so, Mr. Annan tells Security Council during briefing. The number of IDPs now estimated to be at least 1.2 million.

5 August – Mr. Pronk and Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail sign agreement committing Khartoum to take detailed steps in the next 30 days to disarm the Janjaweed and improve security for the IDPs. Mr. Annan later welcomes the agreement.

6 August – Ms. Jahangir's report on the situation in Darfur and in southern Sudan finds that the Sudanese military and Government-allied militias have carried out most of the extrajudicial killings.

9 August – Health workers say they can vaccinate 500,000 children against measles and polio after winning access to areas of West Darfur controlled by rebel groups.

12 August – At meeting of JIM, Khartoum presents UN officials with a plan unveiling the steps it says it will take to ameliorate the situation in Darfur .

19 August – African Union (AU) ceasefire monitors confirm the Sudanese military harassed and brutally treated IDPs a week ago at the Kalma camp in South Darfur and then looted the camp.

20 August – Mr. Pronk arrives in Darfur to for three-day mission that includes visiting camps (including Kalma) and talking to local officials and humanitarian workers.

24 August – UN officials take part in AU-organized peace talks in Abuja , Nigeria , between the Sudanese Government and the SLA and JEM.

25 August – Declaring its operations in Sudan are “grossly under-funded,” UN humanitarian agencies say they have received only $288 million of the $722 million it needs.

26 August – Mr. Pronk begins final visit to Darfur before the lapsing of the Security Council deadline for Khartoum to show it is making good on its pledges to disarm the Janjaweed and restore security.

27 August – UN humanitarian agencies triple size of appeal for its operations to help Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad , asking now for $166 million by the end of the year.

30 August – Darfur 's inhabitants are traumatized and humiliated and remain at risk of being raped, assaulted or forced to return to their homes, the Director of the UN's Internal Displacement Division Dennis McNamara, tells press conference in Nairobi .

2 September – Mr. Pronk tells Security Council that Khartoum has not disarmed the Janjaweed nor stopped their attacks against civilians. He called for the AU mission to be expanded in size and mandate so that IDPs are better protected. But he adds that Khartoum deserves some praise for removing obstacles to humanitarian access and for deploying extra police. In Abuja , Nigeria , where AU-mediated talks are taking place, Khartoum and the rebels agree to draft protocol on relieving humanitarian situation.

3 September – In his latest report to the Council, Mr. Annan says the international presence in Darfur must be enlarged as soon as possible because the “vast majority of militias” have not yet been disarmed. The report concludes a “scorched-earth policy” by the Janjaweed is responsible for most of the violence .

7 September – WFP says it delivered food aid to more than 900,000 people during August, below its target of 1.2 million because the rainy season made many roads impassable.

9 September – Security Council holds consultations on Darfur and the United States circulates a draft resolution among Council members. The number of Sudanese refugees in Chad is now rising beyond 200,000. First UN food aid convoy to cross Sahara Desert from Libya reaches its destination in eastern Chad.

13 September – WHO survey shows more than 200 IDPs are dying every day in North and West Darfur because of Janjaweed attacks and unhygienic conditions in camps. Figures for South Darfur are not available because of security problems.

14 September – Senior UN humanitarian officials meet with the leaders of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to discuss how they can accelerate their efforts to bring relief to Darfur .

15 September – UN agencies probe reports of fresh wave of displacements: as many as 4,000 people are on the move in North Darfur and another 5,000 people have arrived at a town in South Darfur in the past week.

16 September – Mr. Annan announces he is dispatching High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Juan Méndez to Darfur to assess the situation and recommend what can be done now to protect civilians. He tells reporters he has also told the Security Council's members that he wants a proposed commission of inquiry into whether genocide has occurred to proceed. As the peace talks in Abuja , Nigeria , reach a stalemate, Mr. Pronk holds talks with the chairman of the AU's ceasefire commission in Darfur .

18 September – Security Council adopts resolution, 11-0 with Algeria , China , Pakistan and the Russian Federation abstaining, that says it will consider more measures, including sanctions, if Khartoum does not comply with earlier resolutions or with plans to expand the AU mission. The resolution also requests that Mr. Annan quickly set up a genocide inquiry.

20 September – Mrs. Arbour and Mr. Méndez begin weeklong mission to Darfur , visiting IDP camps and talking to AU monitors. A day later, they say a sense of fear pervades the camps and residents remain sceptical that the authorities can or will protect them.

22 September – UN agencies report that the number of IDPs has swelled to 1.45 million and is still rising. Mr. Pronk visits Sudan 's neighbours Eritrea and Ethiopia to discuss the situation in Darfur .

23 September – Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail tells General Assembly's annual high-level debate that it will respect human rights and work for peace in Darfur , but blames the rebel groups for causing problems. He also denounced the Security Council resolution threatening action against Khartoum .

24 September – Mr. Annan tells Security Council meeting that the “terrible violence” in Darfur means the crisis there is a global issue, and “not simply an African problem.” Nigerian President and AU Chairman Olusegun Obasanjo says the AU force needs greater international funding and logistical support if it is to expand to a size of about 3,000 troops and take on new responsibilities. Mrs. Arbour and Mr. Méndez complete mission to Darfur .

25 September – Mrs. Arbour says most of the IDPs are living in “prisons without walls,” and yet Khartoum continues to deny the scale and gravity of what is happening.

30 September – Briefing Security Council on the findings of their mission, Mrs. Arbour and Mr. Méndez say international police officers are essential if the IDPs are to have any confidence that they will be protected if or when they leave their camps.

4 October – Mr. Annan proposes four ways in which the UN can assist the AU to expand its mission, including by setting up a Darfur regional office of the UN Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS).

5 October – Mr. Pronk tells Security Council that Khartoum made no progress last month in disarming the Janjaweed, stopping their attacks or prosecuting those responsible for the worst atrocities. Banditry is on the rise and both sides have frequently breached the ceasefire. In his regular report to the Council, Mr. Annan says the AU mission should have the power to protect IDPs and refugees, monitor the local police and disarm the fighters, including the Janjaweed. Mr. Pronk tells reporters he is pressing the AU to expand the mission's size as soon as it can. He also says a solution to the long-running civil war in southern Sudan could serve as a model for the Darfur conflict.

6 October – WFP says it helped feed 1.3 million people in September, its biggest total since the crisis began, thanks to the rainy season coming to an end.