Monday, January 10, 2011

Storm Clouds Looming – Darfur, Sudan

DATELINE: January 2005: Nairobi, Kenya: Peace Brokered in Sudan… These headlines signaled an end to a twenty year civil war between the Muslim north and the Christians and animists in the south. All told more than 2 million people died and 5 million were driven from their homes. The key issue which permitted the success of the peace accord was a referendum, scheduled for this coming January 2011, in which the people of southern Sudan will have the option of secession. The past election, which did not meet international standards, sanctioned President al-Bashir, as a legitimate leader in the face of widely held opinions that the process was rigged and viewed as a sham.

At the heart of this conflict is revenue from oil. Sudan started exporting oil in 1999 with recent exports reaching more than 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) and Khartoum’s readiness to increase production to more than 600,000 bpd by the end of this year. The pipeline that transports the oil to the Port of Sudan runs along what is the disputed border between the north and south. In addition there is several more oil field just waiting to be tapped. Under the peace deal, the south gets half the revenue from oil extracted in the south and Khartoum (the north) gets the remainder, plus all of the oil revenues from what it declares to be the north. If the south votes to succeed then Khartoum may wind up the loser in this arrangement, which it looks like it will. The only solution is if these two factions can come to an agreement on oil wealth-sharing and boundary determinations. But with a history of election fraud, religious differences, and genocide war is likely.

The western region of Sudan known as Western Darfur or what is called Darfur is about the Texas with its population made up of racially mixed tribes the majority of which are Muslim. Early in 2003 two rebel groups rose up and launched attacks against the Khartoum government. Khartoum responded with a genocidal cleansing using a scorched-earth policy which led to casualties reaching nearly 500,000 dead and more than two million displaced by the government supported Janjaweed militia. Even today violence, disease, and displacement continue to kill thousands of innocent Darfurians every month.

All this seems like to be renewed as the referendum nears and the vote for succession takes place.
Americans and Christians have a particularly important role to play in supporting peace in Darfur. The US government has been proactive in speaking out in support of the people of Darfur, Christian aid groups are attending to the vast numbers of innocent casualties but there is still much work that needs to be done. Christians need to speak out with their voice and giving so that international governments take the actions needed to end this genocide.

Long-term peace in Darfur requires that the government of Sudan, the Janjaweed militia forces and the rebel groups of Darfur find a way to resolve their political and economic disputes. The international community managed to broker a peace deal in May 2006, but violence in Darfur actually increased in the wake of this deal. Thousands of innocent civilians continue to die from murder, disease and starvation every month. Today, millions of displaced civilians living in refugee camps are in dire need of international support as the violence continues.

So as this referendum vote draws near take time to pray, give to aid Christian aid groups and get involved in activities that heighten the pressure on our government to keep involved in negotiations that will lead to what will be an obvious outcome, a peaceful dissolution of a nation.

This is your investment. This is your joy.

Mark Szymanski

Please consider joining our financial support team. You can send contributions to: United World Mission, PO Box 602002, Charlotte NC 28260-2002 and write ACCT# 11013 in the memo line. Further info about on-line giving and other programs see UWM.

No comments: