Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Darfur and Us

Apparently, it was only the WPR in print that is done...the internet edition carries on, and thank goodness: its invaluable.

Why the Darfur Tragedy Will Likely Occur Again

Chinua Akukwe contributing editor
July 28, 2004

A Sudanese boy at Bredjing refugee camp in eastern Chad, on July 26, 2004. (Photo: Desirey Minkoh/AFP-Getty Images)

The unfolding tragedy in the western region of Sudan, known as Darfur has gained the attention of the international community for the last several weeks. According to news reports, at least 50,000 black Africans of Darfur have died from a systematic orgy of bloodletting conducted by an Arab government-backed militia known as Janjaweed. The well-armed militia is reportedly conducting a government-sponsored ethnic cleansing campaign to drive away their black-skinned neighbors from their ancestral farming and grazing lands. More than one million people have fled their homes and are now nervously huddled in rain and wind swept makeshift refugee camps in Western Sudan and Chad.

As the usual wheels of continental and international diplomacy kick in to end the tragedy in Darfur, I am afraid that nothing is in the offing to prevent another Darfur occurring in Sudan or any part of Africa in the immediate future. The high profile visits by world leaders to Darfur have done nothing to address key fundamental issues about this unfolding tragedy.

The role of the government of Sudan
Is the Sudanese government supporting an ethnic cleansing campaign of its citizens? Providing an immediate answer to this question is as important as rushing food aid to the refugees since you cannot rely on a complicit government to solve an inhumane condition it created in the first place. If the government is culpable, what are the specific consequences for its leaders and supporters?

The role of the African Union
If the Sudanese government is conducting an ethnic cleansing campaign, should the African Union have a dialogue with this government and its leaders? What level of killings and population displacements will trigger deployment of military forces by the African Union to Darfur?

Western countries, especially the United States and Britain
Should America and Britain have a dialogue with a government that is widely believed to be waging a war of ethnic hatred and murder against its citizens? Should the U.S. and Britain continue to explore mineral resources ・especially oil ・and possibly enrich/strengthen the leaders of a government waging a murderous campaign against selected citizens of its country? Should the U.S. and Britain rule out forceful intervention in Darfur to end a possible, unfolding genocide?

The United Nations and Multilateral Agencies
If a government decides to eliminate a select group of its citizens, should the UN and its agencies deal with that government on an as usual・basis? When will the UN decide that the government has failed its people? What form of government-sanctioned atrocity will trigger the UN to seek alternative ways of managing a very grave humanitarian situation without passing though a complicit host government? Besides selective or smart・economic sanctions targeted at elites of developing countries, what else should the UN do to stop a culpable government from selectively killing its own people?

This is Kofi Annan's 3rd catastrophic massacre on his watch. While UN employees are slaughtered in Africa and Angola, the Congo, the Ivory Coast and Rwanda burned, Kofi was worrying about sanctioning Israel.

Something has to change. The UN is not a force for good. Between oil for food scams, the bulgin bureaucracy and utter lack of tangible results, the institution needs a massive kick in the ass.

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