Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Geography of Sudan

Sudan is not only the largest country in Africa (roughly the size of western Europe) but also one of the least developed.
Sudan is really two countries: its northern half lies just below Egypt and shares Egypt's geography--vast, dry deserts flanking a narrow fertile swath created by the mighty Nile. Its peoples either live along the Nile or survive as nomads with their camels.
Sudan's southern half, however, contains mountains and plains, land made arable by heavy rainy seasons, and the world's biggest swamp (the "Sudd"). Its peoples include both farmers and herders who move with their cattle and goats. What little infrastructure existed in Southern Sudan was largely obliterated by the North's bombs during generations of civil war. That North-South ended with a peace agreement in 2005. But the war did not really end. It merely moved to the southwestern part of Sudan, known as DARFUR.

Increasing desertification is pushing the Sahara farther and farther south, and causing the northern camel herders to forage deeper into south Sudan to find water and pasture. The government in Khartoum has armed these herders--now known as "Janjaweed"--providing horses, machine guns, and air cover for them to destroy villages in their path. The devastation wreaked throughout southern Sudan for the past quarter-century is now being wreaked throughout Darfur. Omar Bashir, President of Sudan, has been cited for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

Mercy Beyond Borders is currently working in Southern Sudan with women and children displaced during the civil war, including some from Darfur.

No comments:

Post a Comment