Thursday, July 22, 2004

Failing again

On March 27th delegates gathered in London to remember the genocide in Rwanda and ask how it could be preventing from happening again. Last Friday, July 16, SURF marked the 100th day of the genocide with readings from survivors of the genocide, drawing attention to the plight of so many women who were left not dead but dying from AIDS and who cannot afford the drugs that could help them.

At the forum the name Darfur was raised several times. People argued over whether a genocide was happening, but all those who knew the area agreed that state-supported bombing was taking place and that something terrible was going on. Now, well over 100 days later, we are seeing images from the refugee camps in Chad. In a report that showed that ITV believed its viewers did not know about the problem, might not care unless they saw brave little children smiling and that their claims that all the men in their communities had been killed should be regarded with suspicion - were they fighing for their army perhaps? asked the reporter before asking all the children whether they had 'lost' male members of their family and what had happened to them. It was their lead into showing pictures by the children of the airstrikes, the killings that they had witnessed. It was a good report, but done in typical ITV-news tabloid 'exclusive' style that belied the fact that this has been going on for ages.

Victims testified to Amnesty in June that the airstrikes, killings and rapes have been happening since at least last June. Until the beginning of this year it was seen as part of the civil war, following a peace agreement people started to wonder why the violence didn't seem to be stopping in Darfur. For the last few months we have seen arguments over words, over the truth: the international community is again delaying action until the last possible moment - the point when a massive epidemic in Chad's refugee camps takes the situation out of a complex war into another famine, easy to portray to the world as starving children and let's hope the world doesn't mind bailing Africa out yet again.

The Security Council will again come under fire for failing to act, the British and American governments have both spoken strong words but will be reluctant to send in troops following Iraq. The continuing failure to establish a proper response unit to crimes against humanity, a peacekeeping force that can be sent into action upon the production of basic evidence of civilian suffering, has paralysed the international community again. Like Rwanda 1994, NGOs were in Sudan crying for help on behalf of the people of Darfur: once again nobody listened.

This isn't a very coherent post. There's a lot more information and appeals elsewhere, including:

What you can do about Darfur
Disasters Emergency Committee appeal(UK)
Amnesty: Sudan crisis
UN news
Reuters Alertnet

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