Darfur still needs aid, but U.S. not listening

Amanda Belcher and Amanda Belcher

If you ever turn on a television or read a newspaper you have some understanding of what is going on in Darfur.

Over 200,000 people have been killed in what the Bush Administration has called genocide. The killings are a means to an ethnic cleansing administered by militant citizens of Chad, the country west of Sudan.

I visited the United Nations with 13 of my peers this weekend in New York City. We were led through many meeting rooms of the complex and told about the power and ability the United Nations has.

An area which came up throughout the tour was the region of Darfur, Sudan.

Those who manage to escape are sheltered in refugee camps in Chad and given aid by volunteers to provide relief from the killings.

Two organizations responding to the relief effort are the United Nations Children’s Fund and Make Trade Fair, an anti-poverty organization. A few countries have also provided aid through other means. This effort hasn’t been sufficient to fill the need and many have forgotten about the problem. Its place in the media has been taken up by more up-to-date topics which may not deserve the attention Darfur does.

My question is why?

The killings are still going on, the supplies are still needed and the food isn’t enough. In fact, civilrights.org cites the U.N. World Food Program as stating several thousand people will go hungry in the coming months. The WFP also states refugee camps receive hundreds of new arrivals every week.

The response from the UN in regards to this crisis has been great. Large sums of money and aid have been sent to this region, peacekeeping missions have been deployed and recommendations for support from other countries have been made. The problem I see with this effort lies within the word “recommendations.”

As stated before, the power – or lack thereof – of the UN was discussed at length during our tour. The UN makes recommendations encouraging peace to other countries in hopes they follow through, yet it has no real power. The UN is the only entity where every country has equal say and thus is the only entity that represents the world equally. To me this is a force which should be empowered.

They provide aid and encourage aid, yet the countries that are most powerful and have so much to offer ignore them more than others. I wonder what will happen if those countries need aid.

A problem that stems from this disregard for peace and the interests of the many is that those who may be interested aren’t given necessary information. Because the United States haven’t placed themselves at the forefront of the effort in Darfur the past few months, the American people don’t realize the problem still exists. The issue is out of the news and out of our minds.

One issue also raised during the tour was the amount of money it would take to rid the world of various problems such as land mines and acid rain. All the solutions listed cost less than is spent on defense in the entire world. Over $950 billion is spent globally on defense every year and $462.7 billion for the U.S. alone has already been requested by the Bush administration for 2007.

Maybe if we started listening to the UN, we wouldn’t have to defend ourselves from each other anymore.

Send comments to Amanda at [email protected].