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Sudan: 65% Say Communities Accepting of Ethnic Minorities

by Magali Rheault

But nearly 9 in 10 Sudanese say land issues are a source of conflict

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The International Criminal Court prosecutor this week charged Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, with 10 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Darfur. Although communal divisions represent one of the many facets of the Darfur conflict, Gallup Poll findings reveal that about two-thirds of Sudanese surveyed say their local areas are good places for racial and ethnic minorities.

The survey, which Gallup conducted in December 2007-January 2008, excludes the Darfur region and parts of the South. Still, that a majority of those surveyed think their communities are good places for ethnic groups is surprising in light of Sudan's long history of turmoil. However, it is on par with the median calculated for 32 countries across sub-Saharan Africa where 69% of those surveyed say their local areas are good places for racial and ethnic minorities.

Intertwined with the issue of ethnicity, land rights also represent an important element in conflicts taking place in Sudan (as well as in most other countries in sub-Saharan Africa) as they relate to access to resources, and ultimately, to the ability to feed one's family. In the 1970s, Sudan's agricultural sector shifted from one based in subsistence agriculture to one focused on export crops. As a result, many small farmers were dispossessed of their customary land rights. When Gallup asked Sudanese about land use and natural resource issues, 85% say that land plays an important role in conflicts and security, and 80% say individual land rights need strengthening.

Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face interviews with at least 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in December 2007-January 2008. The survey excludes the Darfur region and parts of the South (around Juba and Nimule). For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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