I can completely understand why Chad would do this ... their government's first concern is their own people; but I really wish they wouldn't send the refugees back ... It's getting harder and harder to try and help them. The Central African Republic has also cut off diplomatic ties with Sudan, and has also closed its borders. I'm thinking that this also means that no more refugees will be allowed into those countries. Aid workers are having a very difficult time getting their permits, etc., renewed in order to be able to continue working in the area. If that happens, the international community is going to have to do something. Closing your borders isn't enough, there needs to be more done. You can't ignore the fact that thousands upon thousands of people are being brutally raped, tortured, and murdered in your backyard.
For those of you who are unaware, which isn't a bad thing, considering that our media doesn't much cover African affairs unless we're 'saving' some 'poor saps' from a dastardly fate that they've 'imposed upon themselves' ... but there's basically a genocide/civil war going on in Sudan, Africa; this genocide is particularly concentrated in the Western Sudan, in an area called Darfur. Here's more information, taken from OperationSudan.org:
"The Conflict in Sudan:
Darfur is inhabited by two distinct groups: Non-Arab black peoples— such as the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa— and Arab tribes collectively known as the Baggara. Both groups are Muslim; however, relations between the two groups have grown increasingly tense in the past few decades. Because the Fur and Masalit are primarily sedentary farmers, and the Arabs are nomadic herdsmen, their conflicting vocations have caused extreme quarrels over access to land and water resources. However, the conflict far surpasses a vocational clash, or even a clash between Muslims; the Muslim North and Christian South territories have experienced extreme tension for decades, adding to the complexity of the overall crisis. When Islamic Law was declared in 1983, the two regions came to a head as the Christians grew infuriated with the imposed decree, resulting in the Second Sudanese Civil War. Consequently, it’s safe to label the crisis as both a religious and economical conflict.
In terms of Sudan itself, the country has maintained a strong Arab character since the nation's independence in 1956, and has been a military dictatorship since 1958. The First Sudanese Civil War, between the Muslim government and non-Muslim population of Southern Sudan, came to an end after seventeen years of conflict in 1972 with the Addis Ababa Accords. Peace did not last for long, as the Second Civil War broke out eleven years later, as described above. A ceasefire was declared in 2002, and peace conferences the following year produced an agreement under which state revenues (oil money, primarily) would be shared between the government and the southern rebels.
However, the agreement did not appease the Darfur campaigners' demands for a fairer deal for the region's population. Two local rebel groups— the Justice and Equality Movement (Known as "JEM", which is generally associated with the Zaghawa of the northern half of Darfur) and the Sudanese Liberation Army ("SLA", which is associated with the Fur and Masalit)— accused the government of oppressing non-Arabs while favoring the Arab community.
In short, tensions between the Non-Arab black peoples and the Arab tribes have been on the rise for decades, along with tensions between the North and South. However when the JEM and SLA groups claimed the government was demonstrating favoritism towards the non-Arabs and prejudice towards the Arabs, anxiety and pressure escalated to insurmountable heights.
The final nail in the coffin occurred after the Non-Arab community felt their accusations and efforts to end the prejudice had gone unnoticed. So, the JEM and SLA rebels attacked government forces and installations in early 2003, but the Sudanese government was caught by surprise and didn't have many troops in the region to help. So, in response, the government mounted a campaign of aerial bombardment supported by ground attacks from an Arab militia known as the Janjaweed. The Janjaweed was recruited from local tribes and armed by the government; however, it should be noted that President Omar Hassen has repeatedly denied any connection, despite indisputable evidence that there is one.
While the conflict certainly carried a political basis, it further evolved into an ethnic clash. Civilians were deliberately targeted based on their ethnicity, which factored into the economic dimension related to the competition between the Arab pastoralists and Non-Arab farmers over land and water.
Since obtaining firearms and other weapons, the Janjaweed has continued to slaughter millions of innocent non-Arabs. With the support of the Sudanese government, they are not being viewed or tried as criminals and have gained free reign over the Darfur region. Numerous ceasefire agreements have been written, signed, and broken. The United Nations and United States have sent several representatives to try and appease the situation, but Omar Hassen has stated, "The international concern over Darfur is actually a targeting of the Islamic state in Sudan,” also warning Britain and the United States not to interfere in the internal affairs of their country, saying it will reject any and all military aid.
On December 25th, 2005, Condoleezza Rice requested to restore $50 million in aid to the African Union, but Congress denied this, leaving the U.S. largely isolated from possible influence in the conflict.
Countless innocents, both Arabs and non-Arabs as well as Muslims and Christians, are still killed each day.
Some more facts:
-According to the most recent figures available (from the 1998 census), less than 800,000 of Sudan's 34.5 million people are 65 or over, while 15.5 million are 14 or younger.
-Some 95,000 Sudanese children under the age of five died last year as a result of preventable diseases in southern Sudan.
-A girl born in southern Sudan has a better chance of dying during pregnancy or childbirth than of completing primary school.
-The Sudan Crisis "is the most dramatic race against the clock anywhere in the world at the moment." - United Nations
-Sudan is suffering from the world's longest running civil war.
-The genocide in Sudan has produced the highest civilian death toll since World War II, and equaling more dead than Kosovo, Bosnia and Rwanda combined.
-The Sudanese government – a military regime in the north – is indiscriminately and incessantly bombing innocent civilian targets such as schools, hospitals, churches, and humanitarian relief sites in central and southern Sudan.
-The Sudanese government also withholds international food aid from civilians in need to force non-Muslims to convert to Islam.
-Amnesty International claims that an average of 80% of the genocide's "casualties" have been women and children.
-The Sudanese government tolerates slavery – militia forces have enslaved thousands of women and children from central and southern Sudan.
-Reportedly, the refugee count in Darfur has reached 11.2 million.
-The World Food Program estimated that 3 million Sudanese civilians were at risk of starvation in 2003 alone.
-Over 2 million have died as a result of the war/genocide as of 2004; this does not include the deaths due to disease and starvation from uninhabitable conditions.
-In 2000, Amnesty International documented more than 250 bombings of civilian or humanitarian targets in a single month.
-It is estimated that up to 200,000 people are currently enslaved by the Janjaweed; this includes women and children."
As a member of both African History and African Politics classes, perhaps I'm closer to the idea of how devastating this is. But it can't continue to be ignored. Conflicts like these leave devastating effects on the country, the people, and the world. There is no reason why we don't know about this. This isn't about religion or race, it's about being human.
Please be sure to visit www.operationsudan.org ; there's a very handy slideshow to inform yourself and others about what's going on. The webmistresses make everything very easy to understand. I ask that you donate, if you can, write to your representatives and demand something be done, or even, please, just spread the word. Show people that this is happening. Sometimes we get too caught up in getting to class on time and making sure that we don't miss supper that we forget that there's a larger world out there. There's a bigger picture that we're all a part of, regardless of all those boxes we're constantly being put into. We're so often caught up in things that we thing are beyond our reach — THEY'RE NOT. We often make them that way. We can fix this ... we really can.
I didn't cut this, because I want it to be in everyone's face.
Please at least take some time to review the information and share it.
Laughter and love,
meghan k. grey