Thursday, February 19, 2009

Brutal wars in Africa's biggest county (Shall we take a look)

Brutal wars in Africa's biggest country (Shall we take a look)
Sudan, the largest country in Africa, has been at war for nearly 50 years. The three main conflicts:

A brutal 21-year civil war between the north and the south that ended in 2005. In 2005, Sudan's government and rebels from the south officially ended Africa's longest-running war. The 21-year civil conflict killed 2 million people and forced more than 4 million from their homes, according to U.N. estimates.
Under peace deal, oil revenues to be shared
Refugees started returning in late 2005
Former foes clash over oil-rich Abyei region
The ongoing humanitarian crisis in Darfur in the west where at least 300,000 have died and 2.9 million been displaced by fighting since 2003 The United Nations has described Sudan's western Darfur region as one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.
Over 2.9 million uprooted
World's biggest relief operation
2006 peace deal failed to improve security Tensions in eastern Sudan where insurgents have threatened to challenge the government for a share of the country's power and natural-resources. Sudan has had war in the south and west, and a decade-long low level revolt in the east has threatened to flare into full-scale conflict. But the mid-October 2006 signing of an agreement between eastern Sudanese rebels and Khartoum has given hope that peace could stabilise one of Sudan's most important areas economically
One of poorest regions in Sudan Home to Sudan's largest gold mine and major oil pipeline Drought forced many to abandon nomadic lifestyle

An obvious question is: Why is Sudan plagued by internal conflict, and how are these three conflicts related, if at all? There is no easy answer, but a few explanations do shed light on the problem.
First, colonisers drew the boundaries of present-day Sudan without heed to the different religious and ethnic groups that already inhabited the territory, which was under joint Anglo-Egyptian control until 1956. This set the stage for showdowns between the north, populated predominantly by Arab Muslims, and the south, populated largely by animists and Christians of African origin.
The British lit the tinderbox when they left by leaving an elite group of northerners in charge.
Second, over the years those in power in Khartoum have marginalised southerners, Darfuris and several other groups in various pockets of the country, including provinces in eastern Sudan. In addition, the Islamist policies of the government in the 1990s added to the alienation of the southerners.
Third, rebels in all corners of the country share similar grievances over Khartoum's failure to provide even the most basic of services, and widespread abject poverty has fueled calls to share the wealth.
The discovery of oil in southern Sudan in 1978 only raised the stakes. Sudan rakes in up to $1 billion year in oil exports but there is little in the way of social services to show for it. In 2005, it looked as though Sudan had finally moved to put its house in order. The government and the main rebel group in the south, the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), signed a peace deal that ended the north-south civil war.
A new power-sharing government was sworn in. But the peace deal looks shaky.
The conflict in Darfur and the possibility of new violence in the east, where rebels have the same grievances as those elsewhere in the country, threaten to derail the entire process.
Former SPLM rebels are now in the central government as ministers, so the fates of the south and of other troubled areas are increasingly linked. And as SPLM soldiers have supported the rebels in the east, the south could yet play a role in further conflict with Khartoum.

Added information:

KEY FACTS
Total population (2007)
37.8 million (U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs Population Division 2006)
Life expectancy at birth (2005)
57.4 years (UNDP - Human Development Report 2007/2008)
Total adult literacy rate (2004)
60.9 percent (UNDP 2006)
Infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births (2006)
61 (UNICEF - State of the World's Children 2008)
Under-5 mortality rate per 1,000 live births (2006)
89 (UNICEF - State of the World's Children 2008)
Internally displaced people (2008)
6 million (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, 2008)
Percentage of people undernourished (2002-04 average)
26 (U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) 2006)
GNI per capita, Atlas method (2005)
$640 (World Bank Data Profile Tables 2007)
Public expenditure on health as a percent of GDP (2004)
1.5 (UNDP 2007/2008)

Andrea M.

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