Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Darfur: A forgotten conflict

THERE is a virtual genocide going on right now, under our very noses, largely ignored and seldom talked about. In 2003, two wars were unleashed upon the world and true to their nature, each caused much suffering. One, infamously, perhaps arrogantly, was announced as ‘Shock and Awe,’ while the other went largely unnoticed, in a seemingly uninteresting part of the world. Both ravaged human lives. The war in Iraq caught the media’s attention, with journalists embedded in the battlefield, bringing images and stories to our living rooms. The conflict in Darfur, however, was largely overlooked.

Still, a few groups devoted to serving humanity persisted, trying to raise the issue and give it the attention it deserved. A few from the entertainment industry caught sight of the issue, and tried to use their celebrity status to focus more attention of the powers that be. Finally, when it seemed like these organisations had managed to stir UN conscience by referring the matter to the Security Council, Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League, shocked the world by absolving Sudan’s president of any wrongdoing.

Like many conflicts, this catastrophe is man-made, deliberate and orchestrated by the Sudanese government to inflict collective punishment on a population. By conservative UN estimates, it has taken more than 300,000 lives and displaced nearly 2.5 million people, at the rate of nearly a 1,000 per day. Not only is the government of Sudan committing atrocities against its own people in Darfur, it is actively preventing aid from getting to the affected civilians.

The Sudan government represents the politically powerful, wealthy north of the country; Darfur lies on the western periphery, impoverished and thus resentful. Feelings of being disfavoured nurtured rebel sentiment, and triggered a civil war which has dragged on for years. Time has splintered the rebel groups into various factions, some along tribal alliances. As if internal strife were not enough, neighbouring Chad and Sudan have entered into a proxy war in the region, using and arming militias to fight each other, and China’s investments in the Sudanese oil sector have further complicated the situation. In short, there is a mess disrupting innocent lives. Read more >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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