Sudan: September 15, 2004

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The U.S. State Department allegation that Sudanese government actions against the non-Arab tribes of western Sudan (Darfur) is genocide, has been denied by Sudan and disputed by many Western nations. Genocide has historically meant an attempt to destroy a particular group. "Ethnic cleansing",  is when you just try and drive a population from it's home area. Death and hardship will be a side effect of ethnic cleansing. So far, the highest estimates of deaths from the ethnic cleansing in Darfur are about two percent of the affected population. The refugees, living in substandard conditions, are also dying at a higher rate. Aid workers in Sudan have noted a sharp increase in the death rate among the 1.4 million refugees. Normally, there should be about fifty deaths a day (the normal death rate for this population.) But the unhealthy conditions of the camps, lack of food and stress of exile have increased the death rate 3-6 times. If this continues, over 40,000 additional people could die in the next six months, or about three percent of the refugee population.  In the next year or so, excess deaths may kill some ten percent of the displaced population. This is tragic, but it's not genocide. It is ethnic cleansing.

The raids by Arab gunmen on non-Arab tribes in Darfur continues, as do successful efforts by the Sudanese government to keep foreign peacekeepers out of Darfur. Everyone admits Darfur is a tragedy, but no one is willing to do anything about it.


 

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