Darfur Tragedy Is a Scar on Our Humanity

Cape Times (South Africa), January 10, 2007 | Go to article overview

Darfur Tragedy Is a Scar on Our Humanity


BYLINE: Hussein Solomon

WITH an estimated 200 000 killed and 2.5 million displaced, it is easy to understand why Darfur has been labelled as the worst humanitarian tragedy on the continent. Survivors, often have to deal with issues of violence, rape, disease and starvation.

For those wishing to end the carnage, the first step must be to seek to unravel the complexity of the Darfur crisis and seek solutions not only to the consequences of the conflict like protecting refugees and the internally displaced, but also to seek to change the structural dynamics which have given rise to the conflict in the first place.

At the basic level, there is a need to understand state construction and nation-building within Africa's heterogeneous states. Not only has Sudan experienced the horrors of Darfur but also the conflict between North and South as well as Beja.

It seems an inclusive state responsive to the needs of all its people is key to the establishment of sustainable peace in Sudan.

Second, and closely related to this, is the need for closer analysis of the politics of identity formation (especially its virulent variety) in the Sudan.

On this point some analysts point to the deepest fault lines as between Arabs and Africans. However, it is more complicated than this.

The Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), formerly the Darfur Liberation Movement, has its support base largely amongst the Fur and Masaleet tribes and, to a more limited extent, among the Zaghawa.

The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), on the other hand, draws its support largely from the Zaghawa.

The politics of identity is also played at the religious level given the relationship between JEM and Hasan-al Turabi's Popular Congress Party, and those which some commentators note have a more Islamist agenda.

Third, there is the issue of the formation of conflict systems. A conflict system exists where the politics of insecurity spill over across borders and where the dynamics within contiguous states feed into regional dynamics of insecurity and conflict. …

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