Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” If we indeed value human life, human rights, civil rights, and justice, we as individuals have an obligation to denounce violations of these principles. Furthermore, the world community has a responsibility to prevent genocide.
Since 2003, there has been a war between the Sudanese government and two rebel groups in this western region of Sudan. The government forces and the ethnic militias called “Janjaweed” have systematically attacked the Darfurian civilians, killing unarmed people, burning their villages, stealing their livestock, and forcing them to flee. The government forces, the Janjaweed, and recently other armed groups have also terrorized these displaced people in and around their refugee camps. These armed groups are using rape as a weapon to further demoralize and destroy the social fabric of the Darfurian peoples. These brutal actions have been called “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide” (even by Colin Powell and President George W. Bush).
Now over a million persons (some estimate nearly two million) have been displaced from their homes and are living in refugee camps in Sudan and neighboring countries. These refugee camps are crowded; food, water, and medical resources provided by aid organizations are stretched to the limit. Furthermore, the people in the camps near Sudan’s border with Chad are vulnerable to further attacks. The situation is urgent because thousands are dying every day, either from the direct violence, or from the stress of being displaced, sick, and hungry.
Several international aid organizations are functioning in and near Darfur. However, they need resources and protection in order to continue serving the displaced peoples. There are also about 7,000 African Union troops in the Darfur region, with a mission to protect the civilians. However, the AU troops are underfunded and ill-equipped, and are largely ineffective. In September 2006, the United Nations authorized a UN peacekeeping force for Darfur, but the Sudanese government continues to reject the plan to put the UN forces on the ground.
Here are some useful websites to help you learn more about Darfur and take action.
See the blog and photo journal posted by the NBC Today Show’s Anne Currie about her trip to Sudan. The blog also has links to organizations serving in Sudan and/or raising awareness about it.
Human Rights Watch
International Crisis Group
CARE International, providing humanitarian aid in Sudan
24 Hours for Darfur
Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy, led by Mr. Mohamed Yahya, who spoke at IUP in March 2006