Monday, May 31, 2004

Ethnic Cleansing in the Sudan

Via Sharleen, I read an account of the ethnic cleansing by blogger Tacitus. That led me to read some BBC articles (also: this) on the massive number of displaced people in western Sudan.

An Arab militia called the Janjaweed has been attempting to move black Sudanese farmers off their lands in western Sudan. More than 130,000 refugees have gone west to Chad (where members of the 'Fur' tribe also reside), but around 1 million black Sudanese are displaced within Sudan itself, and unlikely to reach Chad because of the inhospitable environment. Many of these are going to be in peril in the months to come as their source of livelihood has been destroyed by the militia.

The number of dead is completely unknown, though one BBC reporter suggested that 50,000 people are 'missing', presumed dead. The government of Sudan (Arab-dominated, I gather) has done nothing to stop the Janjaweed, and no international pressure has been put on Sudan to stop the ethnic cleansing. Complicating the issue, there are now Fur counter-militias that are fighting the Janjaweed, on whom the government has declared war.

I'm still trying to figure out how this might relate to the endless civil war in Sudan between the Arab-dominated government and the Christians and animists in the southern part of Sudan (see this BBC story). That war seemed to be about religion more than ethnicity. Indeed, many of the Fur (the west Sudanese tribe currently being attacked) quoted at the BBC have Muslim names, which makes me think that they are probably Muslims themselves.

As a proper blogger, I would denounce some international group, agency, or government for inaction. But I must confess I am still trying to understand what is going on...