For more than two centuries, Sudan has attracted an unusual level of attention beyond its own borders. This international interest converged in the last decade of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first century as four independent forces met.

First, there is the rebellion in Darfur, which has generated greater international concern than any other recent humanitarian crisis. This long-neglected western region has been intermittently at war since the 1980s and claimed the lives of 300,000 Darfuris in its most recent phase. The rebellion beginning in 2002 led to an ongoing humanitarian emergency, costing Western governments about one billion dollars annually at the peak of the crisis to sustain the 1.8 million people driven into sixty-five IDP (internally displaced person) camps scattered across Darfur. The Sudanese government committed widespread atrocities in Darfur as part of its counter-insurgency strategy, which involved a massive ethnic cleansing campaign to displace the tribes that started the rebellion and has motivated an international advocacy campaign to compel Western governments and international organizations to address the violence.

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