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The situation in Sudan

18th July 2012

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The Political History

  • Since 1956 Sudan has been at war with itself. Split not only by religion and ethnicity, the country has also conflicted over water supply and oil resources. Huge development inequalities have developed over the years between the Muslim North, which tended to identify with the Arab world, and the Christian South, which associated with Kenya, Uganda and other sub-Saharan nations. 
  • In 1983, the second major civil war broke out between the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) and the Sudanese Government. 
  • In 2003, with this war still on-going, conflict in Darfur broke out as the SPLA and the Justice Equality Movement accused the Government of oppressing non-Arab Sudanese. This became known as the Darfur Genocide. Tensions have only just cooled. 
  • In 2005, the second civil war ended, after an estimate of 2.2million deaths. SPLA/M joined the main Sudanese opposition group - the National Democratic Alliance. They signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement and managed to place representatives within the Government of Sudan.
  • However, they still opposed the military rule of President Bashir. The peace treaty was meant to end the civil war but an inequality still existed amongst the sharing of wealth. Political exclusion drove the SPLA/M to action. They declared their main aim: to establish a democratic Sudan with themselves as the leading party in the South. Rebels fought against the Government and in July 2011, the South gained independence. It is now recognised as The Republic of South Sudan and is led by a former member of SPLA/M, Salva Kiir.  
  • But conflicts haven't ended. The North and the South are still at odds, clashing over territorial boundaries and oil profits. Whilst the South holds most of the oil supply, the pipeline runs through land in the North. A compromise must be reached but analysts believe that this could take years.
So who is President Bashir?

  • President Bashir assumed office in 1989 after leading a group of officers in a military coup that displaced the Government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi.
  • He has taken a military approach to ruling Sudan and is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity, mainly due to the bloodshed in Darfur.
  • In 2009, an arrest warrant was issued on counts of war crimes, but there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him for genocide. However, in July 2010 the Court readdressed this and sufficient evidence was found. A second warrant was consequently issued containing three separate counts. 
Defiance of the ICC...

  • You may be wondering why President Bashir is still in power. Well, the new warrant is unlikely to be executed by the Sudanese Government. They claim that, as they are not a state party to the Rome Statute, which is where the ICC is established, they do not have to comply. 
  • Demonstrations from Bashir's supporters have taken place, opposing the charges. Bashir himself retaliated to the warrants from the Western world by expelling a number of international aid organisations, accusing them of supplying false evidence to the ICC. 
  • As a consequence, there are now fewer charity aid organisations able to help those suffering in Sudan. 
The Problem of Territory...

  • Whilst Bashir fights the ICC's decision, his army are still fighting opposition from the southern states, namely those closest to the newly independent Republic of South Sudan. 
  • The states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile traditionally allied to the South, but found themselves on the territorial side of the North after the split in 2011. Alongside these, the Abyei region is also in dispute as it spans across the border and was claimed by both parties. An armed rebellion began last year and conflict is rife between the rebels and Bashir's military Government. 
  • Thousands have fled from these areas and taken refuge in South Sudan.
The Refugee Crisis... 

  • Earlier this year, over 100, 000 refugees from Darfur could finally return home; the biggest return of displaced people since the Darfur conflict began. 
  • Nevertheless, following conflicts between Bashir's Government and South Kordofan, the Blue Nile and the Abyei region, there are still thousands of refugees fleeing to South Sudan. Communities that already lack water and shelter are struggling to find room for half a million uprooted people.
  • In Autumn 2011 alone, over 110, 000 people fled from Sudan's Blue Nile State. With such an influx of refugees, temporary shelters have been set up but they lie along very inhospitable and harsh stretches of land.
  • Some refugees walked over a fortnight with their belongings searching for safety, only to find low water supplies and little or no health services provided. Despite this, they are usually grateful for any shelter. 
  • Fighting unsafe living conditions, Mèdicins Sans Frontiéres gathered data which showed an average mortality rate of 1.8 deaths per 10,000 refugees per day. The emergency threshold is 1 per 10,000. 
  • Although various NGOs like MSF are doing their best to supply aid and improve shelter they are battling against both natural and manmade disasters. Heavy rains are the latest problem, making living conditions in camps extremely difficult. 
As the crisis continues, aid organisations can only do their best to relieve the difficulties of Sudan's people, whilst the world can only watch to find out what President Bashir's next move will be. 

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