- Sudan’s population is one of the most diverse on the African continent. Within two distinct major cultures–Arab and sub-Saharan African–there are hundreds of ethnic and tribal subdivisions and language groups, which make effective collaboration among them a major political challenge.
- The Sudanese are predominantly Arabic-speaking Muslims, though many also use a non-Arabic mother tongue. Following the secession of South Sudan, there remain some small factions of Dinka, Shilluk, and the Nuer from the Nilotic tribes.
Conflict and Crisis History
Sudan has been at war with itself for more than three-quarters of its existence. Since independence, protracted conflict rooted in deep cultural and religious differences have slowed Sudan’s economic and political development and forced massive internal displacement of its people. Northerners, who have traditionally controlled the country, have sought to unify it along the lines of Arabism and Islam despite the opposition of non-Muslims, southerners, and marginalized peoples in the west and east. The resultant civil strife affected Sudan’s neighbors, as they alternately sheltered fleeing refugees or served as operating bases for rebel movements.
In 2003, conflict began in the Darfur region. Attacks on the civilian population by the Janjaweed, often with the direct support of Government of Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), led to the death of hundreds of thousands of people in Darfur, with an estimated 2 million internally displaced people and another 250,000 refugees in neighboring Chad. The conflict in the western region of Darfur entered its eighth year in 2011, despite a peace agreement signed in 2006.
On July 9, 2011, the Republic of South Sudan officially declared independence, seceding from Sudan. Several violent conflicts flared up in 2011, including continued conflict in Darfur and in the three border states of Abyei, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile (the “Three Areas”)
- After more than two decades of civil war, it was hoped that gaining independence from Sudan would finally lead to peace for the people in the new country of South Sudan. Unfortunately, independence has not brought stability to the entire country, as ongoing border clashes and internal violence continue to cause displacement. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in South Sudan, with more being displaced every day.
- More than 2.6 million IDPs are in Darfur and over 250,000 Darfuris are living in refugee camps in Chad. Insecurity continues and many displaced people are still unable to return home.