Nine months later: Darfur still needs our help

Nine months ago, I brought up how the world was largely ignoring Darfur and the chaos going on there. It was my hope that, eventually, the world would finally realize the terror unfolding there and do something to stop it.

Since then, nothing has really changed. Sure, by the time you’re reading this, NBC’s “Today” show will be airing a special report on Darfur, but the governments of the world continue to ignore this act of genocide.

This ignorance is absolutely unacceptable. It’s time for the world to get a wake up call and do something about this.

The Junjaweed, a militia force made of up of Arab fighters, has been slaughtering the people of Sudan for more than three years. According to an article from the U.N. News Service, U.N. officials recently estimated over 400,000 people have lost their lives in the conflict, while some two million more have been driven from their homes.

Darfur is no longer only Sudan’s problem. Recent news reports have confirmed that the conflict is spreading further into eastern Chad, home to some 218,000 refugees.

Due to this increase in violence, Sudanese refugees are forced to move further and further into Chad to survive, increasing tensions between the neighboring countries.

If something is not done soon, and attacks continue, then war between Sudan and Chad is all but inevitable.

Additionally, violence is spreading into the neighboring Central African Republic, where on Oct. 30, Reuters reported that armed fighters occupied the town of Birao. In the same story, Central African Republic President Francois Bozize accused Sudan of sending the fighters across the border to occupy territory there.

Darfur threatens to destabilize the entire sub-Saharan region, potentially drawing even more countries into the conflict.

Sudan’s neighbors have pleaded to the international community for peacekeepers, but those calls have fallen on deaf ears.

Instead, it appears the world’s major powers only worry about the problems of Africa when resources are affected. The United States once led a call to help Darfur, but they were largely ignored.

China has become the latest country to see Africa as only a center for natural resources.

The Associated Press reported that a recent summit with African countries in Beijing led to billions in Chinese support.

However, this was only in exchange for greater access of Africa’s natural resources.

In this sense, the response of the world’s major powers to Africa is the same as it was when the continent was divided by Europe’s nations.

They still treat countries more like colonies, but for their economic resources alone. Maybe they even think if the people of Africa wipe themselves out, it’ll make it easier to get to those resources.

How many more slaughters is it going to take before the world steps in? How many more times do we have to hear of genocides in Africa before someone does something about it?

The only ones who have cared are the African Union and non-governmental organizations like Amnesty International.

In fact, the African Union has a small peacekeeping force on the ground in Darfur, but they have only been able to slow down Junjaweed forces.

Sudan’s own government does not want U.N. peacekeepers, which is also part of the problem. It’s largely believed that the government, mainly Arab in ethnic make-up, is supporting the Junjaweed as a way to remove African-Sudanese from the country.

What’s going on in Darfur can only be described as ethnic cleansing. The world always says “never again” when it comes of genocide, yet it keeps rearing its ugly head.

Because the international community is sitting on its hands and not putting pressure on Sudan, the killing continues.

They’re also not trying to mediate a solution to the peacekeeping force problem, instead choosing to remain silent and watch the slaughter.

The refugees are also suffering from hunger and disease, as they have been taken away from their livelihoods and live closely together in refugee camps. How many have died from disease or starvation isn’t yet known, but the number is likely significant.

The world’s major powers and their leaders, including President Bush, must loudly speak up about Darfur and stop the suffering. Not in a year, not in six months, but now.

Each minute we waste on stopping the genocide in Darfur is a minute it continues. It’s a minute longer that refugees have to suffer from disease, malnutrition and hunger.

You can do something about it as well.

Write to Congress and let them know we want the problem in Darfur addressed. Donate to organizations that are aiding the Sudanese refugees.

Just do something.

It’s time someone did something about Darfur. Hopefully nine months from now, I won’t be writing about our continued ignorance of this human tragedy.

Send comments to Brian Szabelski at [email protected].