We all know far too well the pattern of ethnic-driven destruction, underdevelopment, and polarization that has faced Darfur over the years – and unfortunately, this pattern is not unique to Darfur. There is a larger, overarching pattern of discrimination and destruction by the central Government of Sudan that has plagued many of Sudan’s diverse people.
The International Crisis Group has just released a report entitled: “Sudan’s Southern Kordofan Problem: the Next Darfur?”, which exposes this pattern in the region of Southern Kordofan.
Southern Kordofan is the large state that lies to the east of Darfur and to the north of South Sudan. The largest ethnic group is the Nuba, who are sedentary farmers of African origin. The second largest group are the Baggara, which are nomadic cattle herders of Arab origin, and include the Misseriya tribe in the west. According to the International Crisis Group, “Nuba populations have been subjected to displacement policies under the pretext of modernization, their land expropriated for national development projects and their culture targeted for homogenization”.
The Nuba people suffered greatly in the North-South Civil War, which lasted for decades, and remain scarred by the horrific ethnic-based abuses perpetrated against them. After the Civil War ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, however, the Nuba have continued to be marginalized by the Government of National Unity. The Nuba have been cut off from economic development and left out of power sharing. Moreover, ethnic tensions in the region have been exacerbated intentionally and unintentionally from all sides, and resource disputes combined with ethnic tensions have resulted in large clashes and many civilian deaths.
All of these things and more have put Southern Kordofan in a very volatile and unstable state, and if the local government, national government, and international community do not take significant steps soon, the world could see a renewal of the type of violence it is currently watching happen in Darfur.
The International Crisis Group has made the following recommendations:
To the Government of Sudan: include marginalized people in the political system, give Southern Kordofan its share of oil revenue and funds, increase development in the region, and speed up the demobilization of ex-soldiers.
To the Government of Southern Kordofan: support inter-tribal dialogue between representatives of all tribes to achieve reconciliation and take peaceful steps forward
To the International Community: establish and support early warning conflict-prevention systems in the region, help with demobilization, and increase support for comprehensive development in the region.
The international community has an opportunity to act now to prevent another Darfur from unfolding before our eyes – let us take this opportunity before we have to say “never again” once again.
Read the full report here.