by DAVID AXE
“As of today, I would not say there is a war going on in Darfur,” U.N. peacekeeping general Martin Luther Agwai said this week. “Militarily there is not much. What you have is security issues more now. Banditry … people trying to resolve issues over water and land at a local level. But real war as such, I think we are over that.”
In Darfur, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people died in fighting between ethnic Arabs and ethnic Africans, over a five-year period. Nearly half a million Darfuris — Africans, mostly — have fled to neighboring Chad. Indeed, the flight seems to be a major factor in the gradual winding-down of the conflict. In Iraq, the “self-segregation” of Sunnis from Shias helped disrupt the cycle of violence that claimed tens of thousands of lives. The same might have happened in Darfur.
But that’s not to say Central Africa is at peace. Far from it. Darfur represents just one front in a complex conflict spanning three countries. Chad still sponsors rebel groups in Sudan and Central African Republic. Sudan still sponsors rebels in Chad. Central African bandits still attack Chadian communities. Herdsmen in all three countries routinely slaughter each other, and any intervening government troops, in fighting over land and water.
Thousands die violently annually, but the causes and manifestations of violence are so diverse, and occur in such ugly, remote places, that they seem not to coalesce into anyone’s definition of “war.” Rather, they represent a “vortex of violence” that will continue as long as there too many people for Central Africa’s dwindling land and water resources, and as long as ethnic and religious groups blame each other for the region’s problems.
Darfur might be quiet, but Central Africa sure as Hell isn’t.
(Photo: David Axe)
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