Sudan: 'Rwanda In Slow Motion'

<B>Scott Pelley</B> Reports On Humanitarian Crisis In Sudan

We've been hearing about the atrocities in the African country of Sudan. The U.S. government says the war there has become genocide — an attempt to wipe out an entire race of people.

When the United Nations called it the biggest humanitarian crisis on earth, 60 Minutes went to see for ourselves, and we discovered something you haven't heard much about.

This is a war targeting women and children -- where rape is a weapon, and a school is the scene of a massacre.

Approximately 70,000 people have been killed so far. And at least one-and-a-half million people are on the run. Correspondent Scott Pelley reports.
Zainab, 4, is a silent little girl chased from her home in Sudan, living in a refugee camp with her father, Tahir.

Her face makes you wonder what happened. Her arm tells the story of the attack on her village, and the bomb that maimed her. Zainab is one of 200,000 refugees now in neighboring Chad — almost all of them women and children. They're being chased and followed all the way to the border with Chad.

"Even this little girl is deemed a threat. How can a little girl be a threat to the Sudanese government? It's inconceivable," says Samantha Power, an American investigating the atrocities. Last year, she won the Pulitzer Prize for her book on genocide.

"Children are targets. Women are targets. The government and the Janjaweed seem to be intent on ensuring that life, African life, does not exist in Darfur again," says Power.

Darfur is part of Sudan where an Arab militia called the Janjaweed has burned villages and driven away black Africans who have lived here for 1,000 years. John Prendergast works for the International Crisis Group, an organization that works to resolve armed conflicts. He's also a former Africa affairs director in the Clinton White House.

Prendergast said that attacks on women and children are part of the Janjaweed's strategy.

"While they're being attacked, they're being told, 'You slaves, you blacks, we don't want you back in this area. This is not your area. This is our area,'" he says.

"We have branding of rape victims. We've had a number of testimonies and visual evidence of women who have been raped and then branded -- sort of like a scarlet letter, a permanent letter on them that says they've been raped by an Arab soldier, or Janjaweed member, and the blood line has now been infiltrated."

It's a brand that Zara Abel Kareem will wear the rest of her life. "I was raped," she says. "I was burned on one leg. They used the knives."

Zara said her husband and two of her children were killed. Now, she's left with a 1-year-old infant and the mark of the Janjaweed.

What does Janjaweed mean? Power says it means, literally, "evil men on horseback."

It started a year-and-a-half ago, when Sudan's Arab government decided to put down a rebellion in Darfur by simply driving out the entire population. 60 Minutes showed what was left of a girl's school in pictures taken by African investigators. The attack happened in July. Eight girls were shackled before the school was set on fire.

Investigators for the U.S. State Department found other atrocities, and 60 Minutes obtained their field notes. They include these quotes: "targeting of young boys," a "male child held up by ankles and knifed across stomach," a "male child smashed on tree," and "a number of girls raped and brutalized so badly had to be carried to Chad, still can't walk."

In the refugee camp in Chad, 60 Minutes met Amina, who said her son had been with other children running away from an attack when they were hit by a bomb.

"I could not find the body of my child. All that is there is a pile of dismembered bodies," says Amina. "I was terrorized. I was weeping. Our people buried the dead. I took my surviving children and left, because this one is now gone."

Broken families take days to cross the Sahara into Chad and reach camps set up by the International Rescue Committee. Some children come so malnourished that they have to drink formula all day long. Older brothers or sisters feed them when no parent has survived.

The most recent genocide in Africa was Rwanda in 1994. How does this compare?

"In Rwanda, the killing was done in 100 days. In Sudan, this thing has strung on for 17 months," says Prendergast. "Sudan is Rwanda in slow motion. It's unfolding in a way that has ironically given the world the chance to redeem itself for the failures in 1994. And the world has just dropped the ball."

Now, a group of African nations is preparing to send in a few thousand troops to monitor an area the size of Texas. The United Nations and the United States have offered only humanitarian support. In the meantime, the World Health Organization says 10,000 men, women and children from Darfur die every month.

  • Rebecca Leung

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