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“For over four decades now the Sudan has been engulfed in a bitter and devastating civil war between its Northern and Southern regions.
Brief Overview on:
War and Genocide in the Sudan
By Sabit A. Alley
Sabit Alley is a native of Sudan and a director of the Coalition
Against Slavery in Mauritania and Sudan. His wife, Jane, and
the couple's children themselves escaped
a slave raid on their native village in southern Sudan. Mr.
Alley delivered this paper at "The 19th Annual Holocaust and
Genocide Program: Learning Through Experience" hosted by the
Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies of Raritan Valley College
in New Jersey on March 17, 2001.
The Sudan, located in North East Africa, is the largest country
on the African continent with boarders that touch Egypt, Eritrea,
Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Congo, Chad and Libya. It occupies an area
of about one million square miles, and has a diverse population
of about 28 million people, comprising 56 ethnic groups, which are
subdivided into 597 tribes. All of these tribes speak more than
400 different languages and dialects.
A colony of Britain from 1898 to 1956, the Sudan is a country of
contrasts and contradictions. Its northern part is arid desert with
no natural resources of any significant value and is inhabited by
people who consider themselves Arabs and Muslims by race and faith
respectively. Its Southern part, on the other hand, ranges from
green savannah land to thick tropical rain forests with plenty of
untapped natural resources including water, forests, gold, iron,
copper and oil. Unlike the people in the Northern part, inhabitants
of the South are racially African and predominantly Christian and
traditionalists by faith. In a sense, one can justifiably argue
that, because of these incongruent differences in geography, history,
socio-economic levels of development, race and religion, the Sudan
is two countries in one. One might also argue that it was, perhaps,
due partly to these differences that the British colonialists administered
the two regions separately until their hasty departure in 1956.
The North-South War
For over four decades now the Sudan has been engulfed in a bitter
and devastating civil war between its Northern and Southern regions.
The causes of the war are varied and complex, but generally they
hinge on the North's hegemonic designs over the people of the South.
Since independence on January 1, 1956 successive Arab and Muslim
dominated governments in Khartoum have strived to forcefully bring
the South under Arab and Islamic fold. These governments, and especially
the current National Islamic Fundamentalist government, have used
and continue to use war methods or weapons such as slavery, Arabization,
Islamization, enthnic cleansing, aerial bombardment and man-made
famine to either decimate or subjugate the African people of the
Southern Sudan and Nuba Mountains. The National Islamic government
has even gone as far as to declare "Jihad", an Islamic
Holy war against the people of the South and the Nuba Mountains,
who it considers as infidels and who must be totally eradicated
or brought under the banner of Arabism and Islamism.
The People of The South have bitterly resisted this Northern assault
by taking up arms to wage a war of resistance and liberation. However,
in the 46 years of warfare, the South has lost over two million
people-that is about 8% of the country's population- and five million
of its population has been internally displaced with another half
a million scattered in neighboring countries and abroad as refugees.
The rudimentary socio-economic infrastructure in the South has also
been totally destroyed as a direct result of the war. Schools, health
services and transportation systems are almost non-existent in the
South Sudan and the Nuba Mountains thus rendering two generations
of children in these regions completely uneducated and illiterate
as well as making the whole population vulnerable to all kinds of