Described as "the worst humanitarian crisis in the world," it goes on today with few taking any serious note. In western Sudan the Arab-dominated government is trying to purge the Darfur region of black Africans. Up to a million people have fled their homes, many to neighboring Chad, seeking protection and shelter from marauding militia.
In the past year the border town of Tine has seen its population double as refugees have poured out of Sudan, fleeing Arab militiamen mounted on horses and camels who are waging a campaign of ethnic cleansing against their black neighbors.
There is an ethnic divide between Arabs and black Africans. Considered a sideshow only a year ago, this crisis is now too tragic to be ignored.
Many could only watch as the Janjaweed (as the militiamen are known) executed members of their families. Most lost their possessions when their houses were burned down. All were exhausted after walking for days through the desert.
Now they have collapsed in towns along the border in one of the most destitute regions of Chad, which is itself among the world's poorest countries.
Relief money channeled through the United Nations has disappeared. Aid workers from other agencies have accused the UN of inefficiency and perhaps worse. "What is going on here is very dark," said one Western aid worker at a non-UN agency.
Sudan has experienced sporadic and halfhearted attention from the West. An older civil war between the Muslim north and Christian south resulting in the enslavement of the latter by the former brought attention, and resulting pressure, from America's influential religious lobby.
Because of Sudan's ties to Osama bin Laden and his terror network, the country drew the attention of America after terrorist bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. In response former U.S. President Bill Clinton ordered a suspected munitions factory bombed.
However, no effective solution from the United Nations, United States or any Muslim nation has halted the civil wars and the resulting famines that have affected the lives of millions.
Ironically, last month African countries elected Sudan to serve on the UN's human rights commission.
—Sources: Economist and Financial Times.