Independent Christian Voice


2 million refugees continue to suffer

From The Observer:
The world has turned away but Darfur's misery goes on The conflict in Sudan no longer dominates the headlines. But, as Euan Ferguson reports from Darfur, the fallout from the civil war is still a grim reality. Sudan, the tenth largest country in the world, has been host for the last quarter-century to Africa's longest civil war, with the Islamicised north, centred on the power-base in the capital, Khartoum, asserting itself over the mostly black, African, Christian or animist south. So far so simple, but it doesn't really tell the story of Darfur. For centuries, there was a rough coexistence, here towards the west of the country, between black farmers and the travelling, nomadic, historically more Arab peoples, who would drive their cattle from north to south and back, as the rains and pastures came and dried. There was wary coexistence. Trade. Friendships. But early in 2003, it all started to go wrong. The black natives in Darfur had had enough. The serviceable land they had shared with the nomads was becoming scarcer. Desert has been encroaching on the arable land for years, and it is now racing and engulfing many miles every year, exacerbated by global warming. Khartoum, Arab-run Khartoum, would always take the side of 'its' nomads. With arms from the south - arms provided to most of this part of Africa, for decades, by the West - the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) began to attack government outposts, army outposts, determined to have a greater say in its own affairs. Retaliation was swift. The government sent in gunships. And armed the nomads. 'Janjaweed' translates as 'men with guns on the backs of beasts', and they did exactly what it said on the tin: raided the black villages, at dusk, on horseback and on camels and in trucks, and slaughtered and raped, and sneaked back into the brush at nightfall. More than 60,000 died - shot and macheted by the Janjaweed, or bombed from above by the government. Thousands of villages were razed, and after a while there wasn't even the excuse that they were sheltering rebels: this was simple ethnic cleansing. The world belatedly sat up, and towards the end of last year the Khartoum government had to listen. The slaughter slowed. A north-south peace deal was signed. Articles of negotiation were begun, and promises made to give no more support to the Janjaweed. Peace, it seemed, was breaking out. The world stopped watching and the story seemed to go away. It didn't, of course. There are, today, a sliver under two million homeless Darfurians still living from hand to mouth in camps. There are a further million living in the towns which host the camps, who have been directly affected by the slaughter, growing hungry because so many farmers have lost their livelihoods. Of these terrible figures, more than 50 per cent are children. More than one and a half million of those with their futures stolen are under 18; 600,000 of them are under five. This is the forgotten reality of Darfur today. The world has turned away to the next crisis. But, look. Look at the aftermath of war. Look back at those figures. Three million people, ruined. Over half a million of them babies. Or come and look at the camps.
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