Sunday, January 02, 2005

A glimmer of hope in Sudan

The civil war in Sudan, which has left more than 2 million dead and has been raging for as long as most college students have been alive, may be near an end. Representatives of the African nation's northern Muslim government and its southern Christian and animist rebels agreed Friday to a permanent ceasefire expected to lead to a peace treaty that negotiators hope to get signed next month in Kenya.

Sudan has received frequent media attention in the last year, primarily due to the atrocities in its western Darfur region, which look an awful lot like genocide. Unfortunately, the deal that could end the civil war is unlikely to have much immediate effect on the Darfur conflict, which has killed more than 70,000 people and displaced almost 2 million from their homes.

Still, glimmers of hope exist. President Bush has signed a bill authorizing his administration to sanction the Sudanese government if pro-government Janjaweed militiamen don't stop killing black Africans in Darfur. The United States has pledged $300 million in aid to the region. And many observers say the peace deal that halted the civil war could be a model for resolving the Darfur conflict.

Sudan has been mired in misery for decades. At last, the beginning of the end of the bloodshed there is in sight.

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