Disarmament Insight


Monday, 24 September 2007

Children’s drawings describing Darfur atrocities

Human Rights Watch (HRW): What's happening here?
13-year-old artist: These men in green are taking the women and the girls.
HRW: What are they doing?
Boy: They are forcing them to be wife. The houses are on fire.
HRW: What's happening here?
Boy: This is an Antonov. This is a helicopter. These here, at the bottom of the page, these are dead people.

Last week, while looking for a picture to illustrate a post on systematic rape in DRC, I came across a series of drawings from children who were refugees in camps along the Chad-Darfur border.

These pictures date from February 2005, when two Human Rights Watch researchers, Dr. Annie Sparrow and Olivier Bercault, visited refugee camps in Chad in order to assess issues of insecurity and sexual violence.

The two researchers gave paper and crayons to children so that they could draw while their parents and caretakers were interviewed.

Without any instructions or guidance, the children drew scenes from their experiences of the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region: the bombings by Sudanese government helicopters and Antonov planes, the villages burning, the attacks by mounted Janjaweed (using the UN definition, the Janjaweed – thought to mean “a man with a gun on a horse” – are comprised of nomadic Arabic-speaking African tribes, the core of whom are from Abbala (camel herder) background with significant Lambo recruitment from the Baggara (cattle herder) people), the shootings of civilians, the rape of women and girls, and the flight to Chad.

Although they date from early 2005, these drawings are highly topical. According to UN estimates, the Darfur conflict – which is still going today – has killed more than 200,000 people and at least 2.2 million people have fled their homes since 2003.

Click here to see Darfur children’s drawings.

Aurélia Merçay


Darfur Drawn, The conflict in Darfur through children’s eyes, Human Rights Watch, http://hrw.org/photos/2005/darfur/drawings/index.htm.

A. Sparrow and O. Bercault, The Art of War: Children's drawings illustrate Darfur atrocities, 14 July 2005, Slate, available online at http://www.slate.com/id/2122730/.

Statistics retrieved from a press conference by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at UN Headquarters. See "Darfur: Ban Ki-moon says peace talks must be 'final phase' towards settlement", UN News Centre, 10 September 2007, available here.

Drawing from a 13-year-old boy, who fled Darfur and was living in a refugee camp in Chad in 2005 (no more recent information), see http://hrw.org/photos/2005/darfur/drawings/13.htm.