Courtesy Reuters

BORN INTO BLOODSHED

War has raged in Sudan for all but 11 of the 45 years since its independence. The most recent round of fighting began in 1983, after then President Ja`far Muhammad Numayri revoked the autonomy that had been granted to the country's south 11 years before and imposed Islamic law (the shari`a) throughout the land. These steps were the final insult to the predominantly non-Muslim, non-Arab population of southern Sudan, which had long been cut off from the distribution of national resources and otherwise marginalized.

At first, it was John Garang's Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) that took up the south's fight against government forces. But in the 19 years of bloodshed since, Sudan's civil war has been carried on by four different northern regimes and countless southern alliances. With two million fatalities so far, this war has produced more casualties than those in Angola, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo, Liberia, the Persian

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  • Randolph Martin is Senior Director of Operations at the International Rescue Committee. He has travelled extensively throughout Sudan over the last 20 years and lived there from 1985 to 1989.
  • More By Randolph Martin