Sudan, The Most Vulnerable Nation in the World

Sudan is one of those places that even though the world has been focused on it, in reality we only know the headlines.  Unfortunately Sudans instability and ruthless governmental practices still dramatically empact the new nation of South Sudan.  According to the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) a recent study reveals that Sudan is the most unstable nation in the world. The sited study judged all the nations of the world by 12 different criteria and determined that Sudan was the most vulnerable. These criteria are revealing and will help us understand why Sudan is in such desperate shape and why it needs the world’s attention so badly.

“Growing pressure and conflict between different demographic groups,” is one of the sited criteria. Sudan has conflict between tribes, between the Moslems and other religious groups, between the north and the south, between the central government and regional political centers and between rebel factions that oppose the government.

“Massive movement of refugees and internally displaced people” is also a major factor that makes Sudan so vulnerable at this time. Internally displaced people are those who have had to leave their home area because of war or natural disaster. In Sudan it is war that created so many IDPs. Amnesty International reports, “Sudan has the largest population of IDPs in the world. An estimated two million IDPs, live in the official IDP camps and unofficial “squatter areas” in and around Khartoum. Many of the IDPs have fled the conflict in south Sudan and more recently, the conflict in Darfur in western Sudan. Many of these face forced eviction from their residence as the Government pushes ahead with its project to ‘re-plan’ all IDP and squatter settlements in and around Khartoum. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) there are four million IDPs in Sudan (excluding Darfur).  Two million are now in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, 325,000 are offered protection in four official IDP camps, 1.7 million have established around 30 informal settlements, so-called “squatter areas.” There are still thousands of people living in IDP camps in southern Sudan because as of yet they do not feel secure enough to move back in their home area. This is not considering all those who are in camps in Kenya and Uganda or those who have fled to other nations.

The BBC report also lists a “legacy of vengeance” as one of the destabilizing factors that makes a nation vulnerable. You can imagine what over 20 years of war has created in the hearts of people. The GOS (Government of Sudan) feeds on its own people, since the early 1980’s there have been millions killed, raped, sold as slaves and treated in the most inhumane ways. Parents have lost children, women have been made widows, children have been made orphans, and in general all of normal life has been torn away from the people of Sudan. People want revenge; it is an unending cycle, one group toward another. These conditions create a national rage that only a great move of God can dispel. Of course this kind of group vengeance is the result of “widespread violation of human rights” which is another contributing factor the vulnerability of a nation. We can look at the genocide which took place in the south for over 20 years and is at this moment going on in Dafur, the slavery, the torture, the deliberate disruption of community and family, forced Islamisation, and thousands of documented atrocities against people groups, families and individuals makes a person say, “No wonder Sudan is the most vulnerable nation in the world.”

“Chronic and sustained human flight” makes a nation weak and according to this report has made Sudan the most vulnerable nation in the world. People are still “fleeing.” On our resent trip to Sudan we were able to help a group of 1,000 who had just the week before fled from the LRA. The GOS is still disrupting IDP camps seemingly for no other purpose than keeping these people destabilized. They seem to be afraid if all the people had secure stable living conditions they might have the time and energy to think about resisting the corrupt government.

“Uneven economic development along group lines” creates instability for the nation. It is no secret that in Sudan this has been a long term problem. The only real development in Sudan is around Khartoum and possibly the home areas of those who are in power in Khartoum, which means all development is in the Arab north. Southern Sudan for generations has had the dubious distinction of not having one paved road in the entire region. I have heard that there is now one road paved between Yei and Juba. I would call that “uneven development.”

“Sharp and or severe economic decline” makes a nation vulnerable. This doesn’t exactly fit Sudan, with oil money the GOS is probably getting rich. The problem is that from the time of independence, January 1 1956, the Khartoum regimes have never shared the wealth with the other regions of Sudan. Similarly another factor in national vulnerability is, “progressive deterioration of public services.” It is not that these services are declining but that they have never been available outside the Khartoum region.

Sudan has from its independence been a divided nation. With the Arab and Black African contrast, the Moslem and Christian contrast, much less the many tribes and languages of Sudan, it is no wonder that peace is illusive. There are over 80 people groups with almost 140 different spoken languages in Sudan. You can understand why a region such as this would have so many factions. Unfortunately this feeds right into another factor which makes a nation vulnerable, “security apparatus as “state within a state.”” In other words, all the many armies and militias within Sudan serve to dramatically weaken its potential to become a strong unified nation.

This gives rise to another of the factors that make Sudan the weakest nation on earth. When there are so many warring factions, several different groups with a powerful leader arise. Each of the leaders has his military and his political cadre around him with the very distinct possibility of each of these powers becoming a center of corruption. The study called this the “rise of factionalized elites.” Meaning that every place where one of these power centers emerges, it comes with turf to protect, power to guard, and money to divide up.

When things get this bad one conclusion is obvious, the government has dramatically failed the people. But when you are rated among the worst governments in the world it is certain that you are just as much a criminal enterprise as you are a governmental entity. This means that as a government your activities have caused the, “criminalization and delegitimisation of the state.” The government that runs the affairs of the nation is operating for the purpose of gaining and protecting their own power and wealth not for the people.

Governments and economies around the world are impacted by one another these days and when a government becomes one of the most unstable in the world other governments begin to look at them. Some governments are looking to help, others to exploit. But this kind of instability always opens the way for the “intervention of other states or external actors.” The Russians are now in Sudan under the cover of the UN, but no one really knows their intent there. Osama Ben Laden recently called for Moslem “freedom” fighters to come to Sudan. The US, and many other nations are working to impact Sudan and the region, and governments almost always put their own interests before anyone else.

As I thought about these 12 factors that make a government unstable and vulnerable in regard to Sudan it drove home to me the great need that exists there. They obviously need education. For too many years education has been disrupted by war. They need leaders with the people’s interests at heart. It also made me realize all the more that what Sudan needs more than anything else is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sources: Sudan News Net, BBC, Sudan tops ‘failed states index’; The report – compiled by the US Foreign Policy magazine and the US-based Fund for Peace. Amnesty International The plight of displaced persons in Sudan; AP Sudan Will Now Accept U.N. Peacekeepers.

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