The biggest country in Africa is the Republic of Sudan at 2.5 million square kilometers. The Sudan gained independence from England and Egypt jointly in 1956. Since that time, the country has been in varying degrees of civil war and in an almost constant humanitarian crisis. There doesn’t seem to be any region of the country that isn’t affected.
The first trouble started between Northern and Southern Sudan. The North is primarily Muslim and Arab and the South is primarily local religions with a small percentage of Christians. This divisiveness started under British rule, in an attempt to prevent the spread of Malaria, travel between North and South Sudan was tightly restricted. The first civil war lasted from 1956 to 1972 with a tentative peace being reached that granted the South some measure of autonomy in the Addis Ababa Agreement. The country was in a decade of relative peace until a new leader decided to overturn the Addis Ababa Agreement to try to unite Southern and Northern Sudan. In 1983 the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) was started in Southern Sudan. This war continued for 22 years until again, the South was granted limited autonomy, but conflicts have arisen again over Abyei, an oil field that straddles the border between North and South. The SPLA officially split from the government. The outcome of this conflict is still yet to be determined.
Darfur is a completely separate and horrific conflict in Western Sudan. Basically, it began when local tribes started fighting with each other in the region. Al Saddiq Al Mahdi, the Prime Minister of Sudan in the late 1980’s sent in militias to stop the fighting between the local tribes. Most of the blame for the atrocities in Darfur falls on the Janjaweed who were appointed directly by Al Saddiq Al Mahdi. The Darfur Peace Agreement was brokered in 2006 between the rebel tribes and the government, but not all of the rebel tribes signed on and conflict has continued in the region, displacing and killing millions of people. Not surprisingly, as a result of the conflict in Darfur, many refugees fled to neighboring Chad, and a large population of ex Sudanese people has settled permanently in the region. War between Chad and the Sudan broke out when the Sudanese government allegedly armed Chadian rebels and told them to lead raids into the refugee villages in Eastern Chad. A tentative peace was reached between the two countries in May 2007.
As if the country didn’t have enough troubles, the Eastern Front; a group of rebels in Eastern Sudan threatened to cut off the flow of crude oil that was traveling through its region. The conflict was based mainly on the people wanting more negotiating power with regards to the crude oil coming from their region. A peace agreement was reached in 2006.
Still today, the Sudan is mired in conflict. They have cut off relations with Chad because they believe that the Chadian government is supporting Sudanese rebels in attacking Khartoum. The Sudan is in dispute with Egypt over a region in the northeast called the Hala’ib Triangle.
We all watch in horror and helplessness as the Sudan struggles with all of its issues.
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