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June 13, 2008

Faces of Sudan

Sudan is a land in conflict. Warfare has been the norm since the start of its civil war in 1983. Ongoing hostilities in the regions of Darfur, Durfan, neighboring Chad and Eritrea, between many multiple parties have cost the lives of hundreds of thousands, and made life unbearable for millions more - Sudan has been in a state of humanitarian emergency since 2003. Just the general facts about the conflicts are overwhelming - drought, desertification, overpopulation, ethnic tensions (ethnic Arab vs. ethnic African), religious conflict (Islamic north vs. Christian south), political clashes (Islamic sharia rule vs. authoritarian government), border issues, multinational interests (Chinese economic interests, US interests) - and - the fairly recent discovery of a half-billion dollars worth of oil reserves, and there's no end to the ongoing causes of conflict.

The authoritarian government of Sudan has been actively and passively supporting Arab militias (known as the Janjaweed), using them to quell tribal disputes, and turning a blind eye to their brutal tactics. The Sudanese government now has to contend with dozens of armed rebel groups, some of which were still attacking the capital, Khartoum, as recently as May 11, 2008. The UN has stated in 2005 that the situation does not constitute genocide, because, despite the mass murders and rapes, "genocidal intent appears to be missing". Nearly 10,000 UN forces are now deployed throughout the region, with the mission of protecting civilians and humanitarian operations.

News coverage often tries to explain the causes, the groups involved, the political and military solutions. What isn't seen as often are the faces of those involved - the displaced, the antagonists, the survivors, the leaders, and the followers. These are some of the faces of Darfur and Abyei, Sudan, photographed where they are today, some very far from home. (More links and information below the photos) (18 photos total)


Kartoula, 14, a refugee from Sudan's western Darfur region, enters a distribution centre to receive monthly food rations at Djabal camp near Gos Beida in eastern Chad, June 5, 2008. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly)


People displaced from Abyei wait for emergency food rations distributed by the World Food Programme in Agok, south Sudan in this picture made available by the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) on June 3, 2008. (REUTERS/Tim McKulka/UNMIS/Handout)

Nyakum Bakony Chan, a frail 50-year old Sudanese resident of the village of Abyei in sudan who had to hide for two days under her bed while the fighting between the Sudan armed forces and the army of the former southerner rebels last week raged in her village, looks on Friday May 23, 2008 after she fled, on her son's shoulders to the nearby village of Agok. Looters roamed the village of Abyei which is contested by north and south Sudan for its oil resources and grazing fields. (AP Photo/Sarah El Deeb)

An aerial view showing fire at the village of Abyei, Sudan, which is seen mostly burned down Friday, May 23, 2008, and looters roamed the village freely, after days of fighting last week. The town, contested by north and south Sudan for its oil resources and grazing fields, has been deserted after fighting raged for days between Sudan armed forces and the army of former southern rebels last week. (AP Photo/Sarah El Deeb)

A general view of the ruins of burnt-out Abyei town in Southern Sudan in this handout released by the United Nations Mission In Sudan May 22, 2008. Twenty-one Sudanese army soldiers have been killed in fierce fighting with southern forces in the contested oil-rich town of Abyei, army sources said on Wednesday. (REUTERS/UNMIS/Handout)

People displaced from Abyei wait for emergency food rations distributed by WFP in Agok, south Sudan in this picture made available by the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) on June 3, 2008. (REUTERS/Tim McKulka/UNMIS/Handout)

A Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldier stands guard at a U.N. base in Abyei May 16, 2008. Talks took place between the southern SPLA and commanders from the northern Sudanese Armed Forces after two days of fighting between the former foes in the oil-rich town of Abyei. (REUTERS/David Lewis)

An 18 October 2007 photo by the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), a fighter of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) escorts General Martin Luther Agwai (3rd from Left) Force Commander of ther African Union Mission in the Sudan (AMIS), as he walks with Khalil Ibrahim (2L), the movement's leader and another commander (L), the day before at an unknown location on the Sudan-Chad border in north west Darfur. The rebel movement said they were advancing on the Sudanese capital on May 10, 2008 as clashes flared with the army across the river Nile immediately to the north and the government slapped a curfew on Khartoum. But a senior member of the ruling National Congress Party said the attack by the Darfur rebels has failed, accusing Chad of being behind the unprecedented rebel assault on Khartoum. (STUART PRICE/AFP/Getty Images)

A picture made available by Albany Associates shows fighters from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) riding in the back of an armoured vehicle following a meeting between JEM's leader Khalil Ibrahim and special envoys of the United Nations and African Union for Darfur at an undisclosed location in Sudan's western Darfur region on April 18, 2008. (STUART PRICE/AFP/Getty Images)

Khalil Ibrahim, leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), shown on April 18, 2008, sitting with his field commanders during a meeting with United Nations and African Union special envoys at an undisclosed location in Sudan's western Darfur region. Ibrahim is included in a list of 20 Darfur rebel leaders that Sudan is to ask Interpol to arrest over their alleged involvement in an unprecedented attack on Khartoum last month, the official SUNA news agency reported on June 10, 2008. (STUART PRICE/AFP/Getty Images)

An ethnic Arab girl spends the heat of the day in a grass shelter with other women at the makeshift village of Taiba, where ethnic Arabs displaced by insecurity and tribal tensions have set up shelters some 40 kilometers (30 miles) north of the eastern Chadian town of Gos Beida, June 9, 2008. The village receives no support from aid agencies. Reflecting the violence in Darfur that has swept in both directions across the Chad-Sudan border, there are 250,000 Sudanese refugees scattered in a dozen camps in eastern Chad and 180,000 internally displaced Chadians, U.N. officials say. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly)

A young Sudanese refugee standing in the door-way at a way-house in Juba, south Sudan on April 16, 2008. Refugees returning from Uganda, Central Africa Republic, Congo and other countries are cared for here, before being repatriated to their respective homes. Tens of thousands of people have yet again been displaced from their homes at Abyei following an outbreak of violence between north Sudan's army and southern ex-rebels over the oil-rich region whos administration is bitterly contested between north and south Sudan. 'We have reports of tens of thousands of people moving east, south and west scattered in the bush', according to a UN source. (TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

A boy uses a stick to wheel the lid of a cooking pot for entertainment at Gassire, a camp for displaced Chadians who have fled fighting around the eastern town of Gos Beida near the Sudanese border, June 7, 2008. Reflecting the violence in Darfur that has swept in both directions across the Chad-Sudan border, there are 250,000 Sudanese refugees scattered in a dozen camps in eastern Chad and 180,000 internally displaced Chadians, U.N. officials say. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly)

Refugees from Sudan's western Darfur region look on as a delegation from the U.N. Security Council visits Djabal camp near Gos Beida in eastern Chad, June 6, 2008. Refugees from conflict in Sudan's Darfur and Chad appealed to visiting U.N. Security Council envoys on Friday for more international protection so they can return to their homes. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly)

Irish Comdt. Stephen Morgan keeps civilians at a distance as the European Union Force (EUFOR) bomb disposal experts dig a hole to dispose of a rocket propelled grenade found by the roadside near the eastern Chadian town of Gos Beida June 8, 2008. EUFOR has deployed a force of about 3,000 troops in Chad to help secure the lawless border region near Sudan, where cross-border violence from Darfur has uprooted nearly 400,000 Chadians and Sudanese living in the area. EUFOR says it has destroyed some 80 unexploded ordanance in the past month near Gos Beida alone. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly)

An Arab nomad woman awaits consultation at a health clinic run by the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Holland in Kerfi, a site for thousands of displaced Chadians some 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of the eastern town of Gos Beida, June 10, 2008. Reflecting the violence in Darfur that has swept in both directions across the Chad-Sudan border, there are 250,000 Sudanese refugees scattered in a dozen camps in eastern Chad and 180,000 internally displaced Chadians, U.N. officials say. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly)

Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir (C) waves his walking stick in the air as he addresses the crowd during a rally in Khartoum on May 14, 2008, during a demonstration against attacks by Darfur's Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebels on the western Khartoum suburb of Omdurman. Tens of thousands of Sudanese descended on the streets of Khartoum on Wednesday, shouting nationalist slogans to denounce the Darfur rebel attack on the capital which killed more than 200 people. Dressed in military fatigues, Bashir led the crowd in chants against the rebels and their leader, Khalil Ibrahim. (REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdalla)

A displaced woman recovers from an overnight attack and beating by armed bandits, at a health clinic run by the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Holland in Kerfi, a site for thousands of displaced Chadians some 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of the eastern town of Gos Beida, June 10, 2008. Reflecting the violence in Darfur that has swept in both directions across the Chad-Sudan border, there are 250,000 Sudanese refugees scattered in a dozen camps in eastern Chad and 180,000 internally displaced Chadians, U.N. officials say. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly)

More links and information:
Sudan rivals agree to settle differences on oil-rich region of Abyei - International Herald Trubune, June 8th
Fighting continues in Sudan's Abyei region Youtube video from English AlJazeera, May 21.
Q&A: Sudan's Darfur conflict BBC summary from Nov, 2007
Sudan Wikipedia entry
War in darfur Wikipedia entry
Sudan NYTimes Topic page
Save Darfur Advocacy group calling for international intervention in the Darfur conflict

 
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