Sudan: Darfur genocide ravages forests too

Sudan’s Darfur conflict has devastated the environment in the region, stripping forests and destroying farmland, according to a U.N. report. People caught up in the five-year crisis have cut down large areas of woodland, partly to feed a booming war-fuelled construction industry, said a report by the U.N.’s Environment Programme (UNEP) seen by Reuters on Wednesday. Tree cover has become so sparse in some areas that Darfuris often have to travel more than 75 km (50 miles) from their camps to find enough wood to sell or use for fuel, it added. “We’re now seeing extreme stress on the environment around many of the camps and the major towns in Darfur,” said UNEP’s Sudan country director Clive Bates in a statement. “We need to plant millions of trees and introduce new technologies for construction and energy as quickly as humanly possible.” The UNEP report said demand for wood in Darfur’s three main towns El Fasher, Nyala and El Geneina had increased an estimated “two to three times” since the conflict started in 2003. Numbers of saw-mills and wood-fired brick kilns have rocketed in the region’s main towns to keep up with rising demand for building materials for new peacekeeping bases, displacement shelters and accommodation for U.N. staff, the report added. It said brick-making kilns alone were burning up an estimated 52,000 trees a year, which meant “the current form of brick-making is having a disastrous impact on Darfur’s fragile environment”. “The brick kilns are occupying and in many cases destroying valuable agricultural land by digging up clay soils around towns,” the report added. Farmers driven from their fields by the conflict often found the timber trade was the only business left open to them after taking shelter in displacement camps, said the report titled ‘Destitution, distortion and deforestation’. International experts say more than 2.5 million people have been driven from their homes since mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against the government in 2003, accusing Khartoum of neglecting the remote western region.

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Comments (1)

MandinoDecember 12th, 2008 at 1:58 am

Soon, there would be no more peacekeeping forces there. I could really say that I am very frustrated to know that the war is already killing lives, not the war has dealt such a toll on the forests, the people there in Sudan would really regret it, especially the government. Instead of having to see the effects of the war, I would just have to build a school like The Emma Academy Project. This school will be built there in Leer, Sudan for the children there.

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