I made a smart-alecky comment about our interest in the teddy bear case in Sudan in contrast with our interest in what’s going on in Darfur in Sudan, and now I admit that I had not been paying attention to what was happening there, either. You can only pay attention to so many things before you start putting your cat in your fridge and answering your TV remote when your phone rings.
So I made a quick trip to Wikipedia to brush up on Sudan pre-teddy-bear.
An ethnic and tribal conflict that began in 2003,
…the combination of decades of drought, desertification, and overpopulation are among the causes of the Darfur conflict, because the Baggara nomads searching for water have to take their livestock further south, to land mainly occupied by non-Arab farming communities.
There are many casualty estimates, most concurring on a range within the hundreds of thousands. The United Nations (UN) estimates that the conflict has left as many as 450,000 dead from violence and disease. Most non-governmental organizations use 200,000 to more than 400,000;…
Seriously, you have to admit, there are bigger things happening in Sudan than the deportation of one schoolteacher. Not to minimize her troubles, but let’s have some perspective.
The Sudanese government has suppressed information by jailing and killing witnesses since 2004 and tampered with evidence such as mass graves to eliminate their forensic values. In addition, by obstructing and arresting journalists, the Sudanese government has been able to obscure much of what has gone on. The mass media once described the conflict as both “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide,” and now do so without hesitation.
Given the superlative performance of the Sudanese government, is it any wonder that they allowed Ms Gibbons to be railroaded? They were probably thrilled to get the international community to focus on something other than ethnic conflict and genocide.
Also in Sudan, from 1983 to 2005 we had the Second Sudanese Civil War.
The ongoing civil war has displaced more than 4 million southerners. Some fled into southern cities, such as Juba; others trekked as far north as Khartoum and even into Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, and other neighboring countries. These people were unable to grow food or earn money to feed themselves, and malnutrition and starvation became widespread (see also 1998 Sudan famine). Approximately 500,000 Sudanese are believed to have fled the country.
The lack of investment in the south resulted as well in what international humanitarian organizations call a “lost generation” who lack educational opportunities, access to basic health care services, and low prospects for productive employment in the small and weak economies of the south or the north. Slave trading has grown in the social chaos of the war. Some observers, including the U.S. government, have alleged that the Sudanese government has actively encouraged Sudanese slave trading (see also: Slavery in Sudan).
The agreement reached during this war in 2002 is also one of the causes of the Darfur conflict.
Did you catch that bit about slavery? Wow.
Sudan is seriously in need of some major help.