A short overview of conflict in Sudan:
The civil war in Sudan is usually characterized as a fight between the southern, non-Arab populations against the northern, Arab-dominated government. Kingdoms and great powers based along the Nile River have fought against the people of inland Sudan for centuries. Since at least the 17th century, central governments have attempted to regulate and exploit the cattle herders of southern and inland Sudan.
When the British ran Sudan as a colony they administered the northern and southern provinces separately. The south was held to be more similar to their other east-African colonies while northern Sudan was more similar to Arabic-speaking Egypt. Northerners were prevented from holding positions of power in the south, and trade was discouraged between the two areas.
However, in 1946 the British gave in to northern pressure to integrate the two areas. Arabic was made the language of administration in the south, and northerners began to hold positions there. After decolonization, most power was given to the northern elites based in Khartoum, causing unrest in the south. For the next 17 years, the southern region experienced civil strife, and various southern leaders agitated for regional autonomy or outright secession.
Another factor in the Second war was the natural resources of Sudan, particularly in the south, where there are significant oil fields. Oil revenues make up about 70% of Sudan's export earnings. The south also has greater access to water, and is therefore more fertile. The north of the country is on the edge of the Sahara desert. The northern desire to control these resources, and the southern desire to maintain control of them, contributed to the war.
Throughout the war, villages were raided and huge numbers of Southern Sudanese were enslaved and murdered, as a result of this the ongoing civil war displaced millions southerners. Creating the phenomenon of the “Lost Boys of Sudan” and also huge refugee camps in Ethiopia and then Kenya. Some fled into southern cities, others trekked as far north as Khartoum and even into Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, and other neighboring countries.
The destruction plaguing Darfur, Sudan today is a near carbon copy of the government-sponsored violence that fueled a civil war that has left 2 million Sudanese dead and millions more displaced over the last twenty years. The situation in Darfur is considered the world’s worst current humanitarian crisis. Thousands of people have already been killed and the U.N. has said that up to 10,000 refugees are dying each month in camps lacking in food and clean water, but full of disease.