International Crisis Group
The International Crisis Group is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation, with over 100 staff members on five continents, working through field-based analysis and high-level advocacy to prevent and resolve deadly conflict.
Published: Friday, May 20, 2005
Reports on Sudan and other relevant information regarding Darfur can be found on the web
Sudan, Africa’s biggest country, spans multiple religious, ethnic and socio-economic divides: between Muslims and Christians, Arab and African, nomad and farmer. Sudan’s triple conflict reflects these, strengthened by struggles over natural resources. Though oil was discovered in southern Sudan in 1978, Sudan’s people are desperately poor. Sudan’s principal civil war began in 1983, initially pitting the Muslim north against the Christian and Animist south, and killing at least 2 million and displacing 4 million. With time, it developed into a national conflict, with the rebels incorporating large groups or Muslims from throughout the north, and the government allying with many non-Muslim southerners. Following a bloodless coup in 1989, a new fundamentalist Islamic government took power, harbouring Osama bin Laden until he was asked to leave in 1996. The civil war was fought throughout the south, centre and eastern parts of the country. Two parallel crises have also emerged: the presence of Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in southern Sudan, wreaking havoc on both sides of the border for years, and the crisis in Sudan’s western Darfur province, which has steadily worsened since a separate rebellion began there in February 2003. Crisis Group has long drawn attention to the risk of a major humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Shortly before Sudan’s north-south war formally ended with the 9 January 2005 signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the struggle for land and power in Darfur intensified in late 2003 and early 2004, with government-supported Arab Janjaweed militia undertaking a policy of ethnic cleansing towards the civilian population of African tribes suspected of supporting the new rebellion.