Thursday, 11 Dec, 2008 Environment

The Conflict in Darfur Has a Negative Impact on Environment


The armed conflict in Sudan causes a considerable damage to the environment by chopping trees and reducing farming lands, reported Reuters.

According to information presented in the U.N.'s Environment Program people inhabiting the Darfur region were forced to cut down forest lands in order to supply materials for building industry which prospered during the crisis.

The conflict broke out on the basis of tribal discrepancies in 2003 on the territory of a poor and arid region. The cause of war lied in the fact the Arabs moved further to the South in search of water and oppressed black Africans whose main occupation was farming. As a result, the Sudan Liberation Movement together with the Justice and Equality Movement raised a revolt against the government claiming that it ignored the Darfur region favoring the Arab tribes. In response to these actions a militia group, the Janjaweed, consisting of Arabs and being controlled by the Sudanese government started air bombardment killing thousands of people and destroying villages. However, the government denied any connection to the Janjaweed. Local authorities even say that the conflict has been puffed up by news media and foreign states.

It’s worth mentioning that the crisis is still in progress affecting civilians living in camps and the environment. As the United Nations reported, local forests became extremely thin forcing people to travel long distances searching for wood. Clive Bates, UNEP's Sudan country director, said that environmental protection in Darfur should become a matter of paramount importance. He also added that it was necessary to plant more trees and implement different technologies in the field of power resources and construction.

According to the UNEP report, the amount of wood used in the biggest towns of the region such as El Fasher, El Geneina and Nyala has increased since the beginning of the conflict. It was also mentioned that the number of lumber mills and brick kilns rose considerably to provide construction materials for accommodation and peacekeeping bases required for U.N. personnel. Each year 52,000 trees are burnt for brick-making, which is a threat to ecological balance.

"The brick kilns are occupying and in many cases destroying valuable agricultural land by digging up clay soils around towns," said the report.

The report entitled 'Destitution, distortion and deforestation' said that the majority of farmers, who had to leave their lands because of the conflict, started regarding timber trade as the only way to make a living. It should be mentioned that more than 2.5 million people were displaced according to the data provided by international experts. They found shelter in special camps placed around the main towns under the auspices of major humanitarian organizations.

As it was mentioned in the UNEP report, the growth of urban population caused an expansion of demand for fuel wood. Militias and soldiers under control of government made their profit from selling different kinds of hardwood trees such as mahogany.

Kunduwa forest in Nyala was completely destroyed although it was possible to prevent its destruction.

Posted by sharaeff

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