Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Death and despair in Darfur

Also from the Coalition for Darfur, two posts linking to two important pieces on the worsening situation in Darfur by Robert Rotberg and Eric Reeves -- the original pieces are here and here, respectively.

From Rotberg's piece:

"Never again!" promised Washington, London, Brussels and the United Nations after the massacres in Bosnia, Cambodia, and Rwanda. But the killing fields of Darfur are more than two years old, and still the world permits innocent farmers, children, and displaced people to be killed and women repeatedly raped. What is to be done?

Despite the presence of African Union military observers, displaced people living in squalid encampments in Darfur and along the western border have been attacked by marauding janjaweed, Arabic speaking militia on camelback. Official Sudanese military helicopters have reputedly strafed villages in support of janjaweed assaults. Soldiers from several armies of the African Union have ''monitored" many of these attacks, but without interfering.

Their limited and constrained mandate and their insufficient numbers (not yet at the 7,000 target strength for a war-ravaged area the size of France) give the African Union effort more of a cosmetic than a meaningful role in damping down the persistent conflict between the government-backed janjaweed from northern Darfur and their prey from southern Darfur.

More than 100,000 Darfurians have been killed since 2003. Nearly 2 million people, pushed out of their homes and fields by combat and the janjaweed, are attempting to survive in precarious huts of palms, reeds, and plastic bags in the dozens of camps in Darfur and along the western border with Chad. The scale of Darfur's human tragedy dwarfs natural disasters and all but the most destructive recent wars of Africa. President George W. Bush has called the mayhem "genocide." UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has used equally strong words. Must the powers of the world merely wring their collective hands, but do nothing?

From Reeves's piece:

A series of extraordinarily dire warnings have recently been issued by various UN officials, a last desperate attempt to force the international community to take urgent cognizance of Darfur’s deepening crisis. Full-scale catastrophe and a massive increase in genocidal destruction are imminent, and there is as yet no evidence that the world is listening seriously. The US in particular seems intent on taking an expediently blinkered view of the crisis... But European countries and other international actors with the power to speak the truth are little better; the absence of an effective voice emerging from the Blair government is especially dismaying in light of British willingness to intervene in Iraq.

Even so, there is no possible escape from the most basic truth in Darfur: Khartoum’s National Islamic Front, ever more dominant in the new "Government of National Unity," is deliberately escalating the level of violence and insecurity as a form of "counter-insurgency" warfare, with the clear goal of accelerating human destruction among the African tribal populations of the region.

In failing to respond to this conspicuous and now fully articulated truth, the world is yet again knowingly acquiescing in genocide. But as the shadows of Auschwitz and Treblinka, Bosnia, Cambodia, and Rwanda fall more heavily over Darfur, we cannot evade this most shameful truth: we know -- as events steadily, remorselessly unfold -- more about the realities of ethnically-targeted human destruction in Darfur than on any other previous such occasion in history. So much the greater is our moral disgrace.

Yes, it's a disgrace. (See my two of my previous posts on Darfur here and here.)

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