Collateral Damage

Sudan is Africa’s largest country, greater in size than Texas and Alaska combined. For decades, an unrelenting civil war has raged there between the Muslim-dominated north and the black animists and Christians in the south. Estimates say that more than 2 million people have died and twice as many have been displaced—most to border countries, but some as far away as to the United States. In recent years, the discovery of significant oil deposits in the south, coupled with the imposition of strict Islamic law by the government in Khartoum, has fed the ongoing conflagration. Following numerous broken cease-fires, the government and the southern rebels—neither group model citizens—have at last almost reached an agreement for a six-year truce.

But just when some respite from the bloodletting seemed possible, another disaster broke out, this one in the western Darfur region, an area the size of France. Responding to demands for greater autonomy from the black Muslim majority in that region, the government instigated and enabled Arab marauders to sweep in and pillage, rape, and kill their black co-religionists. In the last year alone, more than a million people have fled their villages, and another hundred thousand have streamed across the border to Chad, one of Africa’s poorest but most hospitable countries. Even there, the Khartoum government has pursued and attacked the refugees. Mukesh Kapila, UN coordinator for Sudan,...

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