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Sudan: Conflict profile

Since its independence in 1956, Sudan has seen an intermittent civil war.

Conflict between 1955-1976 and 1983-2005 between the colonially modernised Arab north and the underdeveloped Christian and Animist south brought widespread civilian suffering. This was compounded by a devastating famine in 1988.

A 1989 coup brought Omar al-Bashir and his National Islamic Front (NIF) to power. Under his rule, repression in the south increased as the war against South Sudanese rebesl became a holy war (jihad).

With international pressure, in 2005, a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLM/A) and Khartoum. This ended the civil war and allowed for a referendum and eventual South Sudanese independence in 2011. However, its lack of implementation has sparked conflict in the oil-rich Abyei, South Kordofan, Blue Nile and indirectly affected conflict in Darfur.

In 2003, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebel groups took up arms against Khartoum, protesting the  political and economic marginalisation of the Darfur region. In response, Khartoum armed the ‘Janjaweed’ militias from Arab affiliated ethnic groups. Intensive conflict followed, and by 2009 the ICC had indicted President Bashir for crimes against humanity and later, genocide. Despite peace agreements, the conflict continued – most intensely in 2004 and 2014.  In 2017, UNAMID announced cuts to its peacekeeping funds, citing a reduction in fighting.

Meanwhile the Sudanese provinces of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, previously part of the movement for the independence of what is now South Sudan, remain in conflict with the Sudanese government.


Last updated: September 2017

Sudan: peacebuilding resources