Requiem for the Sudan: War, Drought, and Disaster Relief on the Nile, by J. Millard Burr and Robert O. Collins. Oxford, San Francisco, and Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1995. xiv + 313 pages. Notes to p. 348. Bibl. to p. 357. Index to p. 385. $64.95 cloth; $19.95 paper.
Two well-qualified experts, Robert Collins, a noted historian of southern Sudan, and J. Millard Burr, the coordinator of the United States Agency for International Development's (USAID) "Operation Lifeline Sudan," have teamed up to provide this documentary study of the political and human rights disaster that plagues the contemporary Sudan. The book's title suggests the authors' conclusion--the death of the Sudan--which they reach after considering various topics in nine chapters.
Documentation and analyses of relevant subjects are treated with careful detail. The authors discuss the worsening politics of the past decade, highlighting a tantalizing democratic period (1985-89) that ends with the eventual return of the military "solution" to the civil war. They address the hope of a new southern-based movement--the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/SPLA)--which in 1983 addressed issues on a comprehensive level of a united Sudan, only to devolve into separatist tendencies after the military's return in 1989. Requiem for the Sudan also examines the massive starvation in the southern and border areas and the frustrated international response, including Operation Lifeline, which itself ends up on the firing line and in retreat. It describes the large-scale displacement and battering of refugees from the civil war and the embarassment to the Sudanese government of conditions in camps and shanty towns that surround the capital of Khartoum. The book notes the increasingly clear human rights disaster, including the revival of slavery in the south and political torture of dissidents in the north. These did not begin with the Islamist junta after 1989, but they were exacerbated by it. Finally, the inability, or, cynically, the disinterest, of the political forces within the Sudan, Africa, and the West to mount any successful peace effort, even to the minimal level of regular cease fires, leads to the inevitable conclusion of a requiem for the Sudan. …