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&#147For over four decades now the Sudan has been engulfed in a bitter and devastating civil war between its Northern and Southern regions.”

A 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 health hazards.


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