The long way for peace in Sudan

Sudan is one of the largest countries in Africa and has a population of almost 28 million. About 60% are Muslim, a 25% are Animist and 15% Christian. The population is made up of more than 300 tribes, mostly Arab in the north and African in the south. As soon as the country was granted independence from the Anglo-Egyptian dominance in 1956, tensions between north and south soon lead to a civil war. The war lasted from 1962 until 1972, when the south was given partial self-governance. This war is known as the first Sudanese civil war. It caused 500,000 deaths, the majority (more than 75%) were civilians. The causes of the war can be found in the search for regional autonomy. The British failed to guarantee equity in government representation for the Southern African Christians part. The Arab government, located in Khartoum, promised to create a federal system of government in which everyone (North and South) would be represented. However, they reneged on their promises, which led to a mutiny in the town of Torit. In the summer of 1955, the military force led by southerners attacked Sudanese government officials and the war began.

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New tensions raised when large oils deposits were discovered in 1978 in the southern part of the country. However, the conflict didn’t erupt until the Khartoum government imposed the sharia law over the country. Starting from 1978 Sudan experienced his deadliest and second Sudanese civil war. It is very difficult to estimate a correct number of causalities given the brutalities of this war, its systematic way of killing and the numerous mass graves. Historians argue that this number can be estimated around 1-2 million people. As the previous civil war, the civil population was the most affected part. Drought, famine, starvation and diseases were the most common causes of death. The second Sudanese civil war is strongly characterized also by the large number of children employed in the army. All the sides taking part in the war enlisted these youngster in their army. It is estimated that a total amount of 10,000-20,000 children were kidnapped from their families and used as soldiers or human shields.

The second Sudanese civil war ended in 2005. On 9 July 2011 South Sudan became the newest country in the world. The birth of the Republic of South Sudan is the culmination of a six-year peace process. However the two nations are still experiencing tensions and sporadic battles. The United Nations say that the number of South Sudanese seeking refuge at its peacekeeping outposts is on rise. It is a clear sign of worsening conflict. Officials say new groups of 4,500 South Sudanese have arrived at peacekeeping base in Upper Nile State, bringing total at base to 26,000 and total at all United Nations facilities to 115,000. The UN is monitoring the situation with a force of 6,500 men. The African Union has promised to send more troops to Sudan to protect the peace agreement but analysts estimate that 15-20,000 would be needed to secure the Darfur region (the most affected part of Sudan during the war).

 

Francesco Stefani

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