May 03, 2006
What's Going on in Sudan?
So, I'm sure you've heard pieces of conversations, read pieces of articles, and seen little bits on the news, but it's still hard to figure out what exactly is going on Sudan.
It's a genocide. A really confusing one too.
Well, I'm writing a news story on Sudan, and a Delaware student named Mike McKain gave me some backround info on the situation. I would recomend reading it. It's simple, and very enlightening.
What is the current situation like in Sudan?
According to current reports, there are 2.5 million people who have been driven from their homes as a result of violence. Nearly 3.5 million are living in famine or near famine conditions, and around 400,000 have died or been killed so far. Those responsible for the violence continue to plague the people of Darfur; rapes have become common among women who go out to collect wood, fetch water, or work their fields to try to feed their families.
How long has the conflict been going on, and how did it start?
The Darfur crisis originated with a rebellion in the region in 2003. The attempts of the Sudanese government to put down this revolt resulted in many of the present conditions. Part of the program for ending the rebellion was the arming of the Arab Janjaweed militia, which has since used the revolt as an excuse to carry out attacks against black African villages, committing various violent crimes such as murder and rape. These militias have driven people from their homes, and have produced much of the present suffering.
Is there actually ethnic cleansing going on right now? If so, who is behind it?
Yes. Though hesitantly, the United States has come to recognize the present situation as genocide, and rightfully so. The Janjaweed, often with the help and support of the Sudanese government, has used the rebellions of 2003 as an excuse to purge the region of black Africans. However, the militias are targeting civilians, not the rebels who started the conflict. Attacks on civilians are against the Geneva Convention, and as the attacks are with the purpose of driving a particular people from an area through violence or eliminating them through murderous means, this situation qualifies as ethnic cleansing.
How has the west reacted to the situation?
Slowly. With the vast resources of America and Europe, we had it within our power to end this in 2003. And 2004. And 2005. Yet here we are 5 months into 2006 and the issue is finally getting the attention it deserves. Though the Senate should be applauded for passing the Darfur Accountability Act in 2005, we continue to see no one being held accountable for this genocide.
How do you want America to help?
In spite of the blow our reputation took internationally because of our Iraq involvement, we are still the most powerful and influential country in the world. If George W. Bush or leading Democrats wanted this to be a major issue, it would be. If Darfur were moved to the forefront of American interests, there would be greater pressure for action. However, therein lies the problem: we have no economic interest in Sudan or the surrounding region, so this issue remains on the backburner while more innocent people die.
That is not to say the proper action is to rush American soldiers into a complex and multifaceted civil war in Africa. However, the United States should work to assemble a truly international force, working in concert with the African Union, to protect the people of Darfur and end the genocide.
What do you see as something that every day people can do to help?
Something everyone can do, regardless of their financial situation, is just talk about what is going on. Tell people there is a genocide taking place in the world today. Write your Senator or Congress person, even the President, and urge them to take the lead in this critical issue.
Beyond that, organizations such as UNICEF and many Christian charities are working to provide relief to the region. It is interesting to note that those taking the lead on this issue are a combination of Conservative Christians and human rights oriented liberals. It just goes to show that this issue should bridge partisan divides, for it is truly a stain on all of humanity. It is past time we pay attention and act.
Posted by ian on May 3, 2006 10:47 PM
Peace talks are looking good, though. Let's pray . . .
I went to the rally last sunday at Washington DC for Sudan/Darfur... I've been learning and reading about it since last year and my final project I chose for S.S. last year was all about violations of human rights in Darfur.
Im really glad you guys have seen the issue and want to help too. It's really been ignored for years
Posted by: Poncho on May 5, 2006 05:55 AM