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Perspectives

September 24, 2008
Is Northern Sudan the next Darfur?

Helba Aly reports on the escalating situation in northern Sudan. This story was funded by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

A delegation from the northern Sudanese village of Selem visits the mayor’s office to complain of services in their village. Photo: Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting

Sudan: A Second Darfur?

It’s a flashy headline, but a question that some people are legitimately asking themselves. Could there be a rebellion in the north, as there was in Darfur, to the west?

The answer depends on who you ask.

Northerners certainly complain of marginalization. They say they are worse off than Darfur, in fact.

“We should have taken up arms before the Darfurians,” one village leader told me, “because we are in more need. But our values don’t allow us to use violence.”

I heard that line many times during my time in villages of the Nubian desert. “We are peaceful people. Rebellion is not the answer.”

That’s not to say northerners are happy about their situation. Many of them live without clean water or electricity; they’ve had to build their schools and health clinics themselves; and they lack any economic opportunities in their villages. But many seem to feel powerless to do anything about it. “What can we do?” they often ask.

If you ask government officials, the answer is certainly no. The idea of a rebellion in the north is something they brush off easily, almost as if to say, “Don’t be silly; that would never happen.”

But it is exactly this kind of quick dismissal that angers northerners, who seem to have been forgotten among Sudan’s many other problems.

Ask analysts, and people who have worked in Sudan for years, and the answer is more ambiguous.

One UN official who studies risk management said the Northern State could easily be the next problem spot. Until now, the region has not received much attention, but he said it should be studied before it explodes. Darfur, the south, the east have all rebelled due to perceived marginalization. “It’s like when you try to stop a bush fire. You think you’ve stopped it and then it pops up in another area. There aren’t many there areas it can pop up in Sudan, except Northern State.” They may be peaceful people, he told me, but they’ve seen that in the west, the east, and the south, people got something out of rebellion. “When their backs are up against the wall…” He didn’t need to finish his sentence.

To read the rest of this post at the Pulitzer Center’s blog, “Untold Stories,” click here.

The views expressed by contributing bloggers do not reflect the views of Worldfocus or its partners.

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Comments

6 comments

#6

we hopefull for the people of darfur the are gone get wondfull for come time we hope too

#5

[…] and bloodshed in Sudan are not limited to the Darfur region — separate crises are flaring in the north, the south and in the central Nuba […]

#4

[…] bloodshed in Sudan are not limited to the Darfur region — separate crises are flaring in the north, the south and in the central Nuba […]

#3

[…] Darfuri refugees form vocal political movementAfricans desire new strategic relationship with U.S.Is Northern Sudan the next Darfur?Week in review: Winding down in Iran and violence in […]

#2

[…] from the international press and human rights groups, other conflicts in the country — in the north, the south and in the central Nuba Mountains — have largely remained outside the […]

#1

If the people in the northern region are thinking that way, there could be. It seems that the government has focused too much on the war that it has already forgotten its people. Bringing war into its own will only cripple it more. In the end, I can see a very poor Sudan if nothing better happens. I have been visiting The Emma Academy Project and I think that education is a way to go for peace in Sudan.

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