Ten-thousand people die every month in the Darfur region of Sudan due to genocide that is being carried out by the government-sponsored militias known as the janjaweed. In the past year, the number of those killed was roughly reported to be 70,000, though many reports estimate the number to be much closer to 100,000. Despite the 100,000 deaths, more than two million people have been displaced, and mass rape is reported to be prominent.
The question, then, seems very simple: “Why doesn’t someone do something about it?” The answer should be easier, but to keep the theme of genocide, the response has been vague and ineffective. The U.N. has threatened sanctions numerous times but has chosen not to implement them. As the media gets bored with Darfur, the U.N. has been able to thwart responsibility, reporting that Darfur is not genocide-thus requiring it to do nothing.
European countries have responded similarly. Politics and oil trade in Sudan has kept the action minimal but the talk high. Much yelling about Sudan has happened, but, apart from minimal humanitarian aid, little have been done.
The U.S. has been strong in its language with Sudan, being the only country thus far to call Darfur “genocide.” Bush has pledged over $200 million dollars in humanitarian aid to go to Darfur. But not much has thus far been enacted. Perhaps the U.S. is hoping to erase from its memory the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, which claimed the lives of 800,000 Tutsis in the span of 100 days. (It is largely agreed that 5,000 U.S. Marines could have stopped the genocide in Rwanda. But we didn’t).
And so the question still remains, “Why don’t we stop genocide before it happens again?” The answer is not very simple. In fact, I’m not exactly sure there is a great answer. Perhaps the U.S. is spread too thin in Iraq. Not to mention, the U.S. would not likely enter another unilateral mission with growing anti-Americanism in the world.
But as the conversation continues and the intervention remains abstract, 10,000 more Darfurians will die this month. Women will be raped, children will die from preventable diseases and we will watch. For we have seen the pattern with the Jews in the Holocaust, the Tutsis in Rwanda, the Kurds in Iraq and the civilians in Cambodia. The world will read of ongoing atrocities and turn its eyes out of helplessness or irresponsibility. But this is not OK.
What the refugees need is for someone to go into Darfur and take the people out of the hell they have been living in, even at the risk of being called imperialistic. And America is the most capable of doing this. The refugees need to be freed from rape and killing by the government sponsored militias. These people cannot afford for us to be late with our response and then apologize and say “never again”-those fruitless and empty words.
What can we do? I’ve been reading and talking about Darfur for almost a year now, and I can’t help but feel politically hopeless. As the numbers rise we can choose to feel hopeless or prayerfully act.
Eastern’s SPEAK chapter is raising awareness, writing letters, raising aid and praying for God’s intervention in Darfur. We cannot become spectators to atrocity. It is the business of heaven to speak for the unheard, feed the hungry and clothe the poor with humility and love.
To get involved, join SPEAK at 10 a.m. on Mondays in McInnis 121.