FAQs on Sudan and Darfur
Confused by current events in Africa? Wondering what they are talking about on the evening news when the mention Sudan and Darfur? Read on for a Sudan FAQ, and realize that the person who said war is God’s way of teaching Americans geography was pretty accurate.
- Where is Darfur? Where is Sudan?
Darfur is really three regions within the Sudan, much like California, Nevada, and Arizona are all regions in the US. The Sudan is on the east side of Africa, south of Egypt. It borders Egypt, Libya, Chad, the Central African Republic, The Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the Red Sea. The Darfur (sometimes Darfour) states are North Darfur, West Darfur, and South Darfur, all on the western border of Sudan with Chad.
- What parts are blowing up over there?
Right now North Darfur is the most unstable, followed by West Darfur. South Darfur is mostly secured, sort of, at least according to this map.
- Who is fighting?
The Sudan Liberation Army is fighting the government of Sudan in the Darfurs. The Sudan Liberation Army should not be confused with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, which is another group fighting the government. Peace talks in Kenya are going on between the government and the SPLA, and are reportedly finishing up.
- What is their government like?
A chief of state (President Lt. Gen. Umar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, since 16Oct1993 – you’d think he could get a promotion to full general by now) and several deputies, all selected by “election”; a 360-seat one-house legislature, with 355 seats held by the National Congress Party; a Supreme Court with several Special Revolutionary Courts.
The government, dominated by the NCP, is a mix of Mohammedans and military leaders. It took power in 1989.
- Why do they fight?
A civil war has been raging since 1983. The northerners (Mohammedans) have been fighting the southerners (non-arab and non-muslims.) Much like the American Civil War, the north is economically, politically, and socially dominant over the south. The north is mostly desert, but the south is mostly tropical and gets more rain. It also has more mountains. Unlike the American Civil War, a moral high ground can not be clearly identified. The fight is mostly political, since there isn’t a lot of economy to fight over.
- Where are the refugees?
Most of them are going from Sudan to Chad, to the west.
- If they are going to Chad, why is there a problem, since the fighting is in Sudan?
There are several problems: A) the violence is still going on, and people are still fighting, B) there are raiders crossing the unsecured Chad border to steal from the refugees, C) Chad’s resources are being taxed heavily by the refugee stream.
- Are we being called upon to go stop the fighting or stabilize the refugee problem or do something else?
Unknown. The mission hasn’t been defined, which is one reason no one has gone in there yet except the UN humanitarians.
- Who is our ambassador over there?
We don’t have one. It’s a government recognition thing, but the Charge d’Affaires is Gerard M. Gallucci, in Khartoum (the capital).
- Are there any “duh” quotes from politicians that identify the solution to the problem but don’t give any means of accomplishing it?
“It has to be brought to an end. The war, the killing, the fighting has to stop in Darfur.”
Tom Eric Vraalsen, UN official
- The CIA World Factbook: Sudan (http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/su.html)
- The UN Sudan Information Gateway (http://www.unsudanig.org/)
- AfricaOnline article (http://www.africaonline.com/site/Articles/1,3,54937.jsp)