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Unprecedented Attack on Darfur Camp

by susanhu Thu Sep 29th, 2005 at 10:06:06 PM EST

Cross-posted from BoomanTribune.com. Booman suggested I post this here.

I've been searching and searching. Yes, I found enough via U.N. news releases to give you the details below, but first I wanted to tell you what the United States and President Bush are doing to respond to this new, grave crisis in Darfur. It should be easy for me to find since I subscribe -- via RSS feed -- to all of the daily U.S. State Dept. briefings and releases. But I've found nothing.

Nothing, even though one of my personal heroes, Jan Egeland, head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, says: "My warning is the following: If it continues to escalate, if it continues to be so dangerous on humanitarian work, we may not be able to sustain our operation for 2.5 million people requiring lifesaving assistance."

The name of the only newspaper in which I could find Egeland's quote? New Orlean's Times-Picayune.

On Tuesday, Juan Mendez -- the U.N.'s envoy for prevention of genocide -- warned the world that "violence is increasing" in Darfur and he criticized the "Sudanese national courts for doing little to try suspects accused of atrocities."

::: flip :::

The day after -- Wednesday -- Pres. Bush issued a clearly pro forma written statement, reports VOA, that congratulates the Sudanese government for naming 29 cabinet members and neglects to mention the new violence and aid crisis.

What exactly did Bush write to Sudan yesterday? "All Sudanese can be proud of this significant progress, because it demonstrates the parties' continued commitment to a common vision of a unified, democratic, prosperous, and peaceful Sudan." A peaceful Sudan, my ass. Bush is an ignorant criminal. Does Bush even know the true condition of the Sudanese government, or about the recent violence?

The facts: Today, the United Nations refugee agency "voiced 'grave concern' over an 'unprecedented attack', purportedly by armed Arab men, on a camp for thousands of internally displaced persons in western Sudan's Darfur region that is reported to have left 29 people dead and another 10 seriously wounded."

"As long as this insecurity continues, the international community cannot provide the assistance that is so desperately needed by hundreds of thousands of people," UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres of Darfur, where fighting between the government, allied militias and rebels has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than 2 million since early 2003."

The conflict has spread to Chad:

A soldier from the National Army of Chad patrols the wadi Tine, the empty bed of seasonal river that runs between Chad and Sudan in Tine, in 2004. The bloody conflict in Sudan's Darfur region spread across the border to Chad this week when some 75 people, mostly civilians, were killed in an attack on a village by the Sudanese ethnic Arab militia known as the Janjaweed, authorities and witnesses said.(Yahoo News - AFP/File/Marco Longari)

One more thing: These refugees and citizens of these countries depend on cereal for sustenance. Yet, "[w]orld cereal production in 2005 is forecast at 1,984 million tonnes, slightly down since the previous forecast and 3.4 per cent less than 2004's record output, according to the latest United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report issued today.

Why does this matter so much? From yet another U.N. release today: "Some 30.5 million people in 24 countries in sub-Saharan Africa [including Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe] are facing food emergencies caused by problems ranging from war to bad weather to economic crisis, with 12 million people in southern Africa needing immediate aid after a poor cereal harvest, according to a United Nations report issued today."

When I hear those snide snipers in Congress blast the U.N., I know that they have no comprehension of the vast, unending, seemingly insurmountable challenges that the U.N. tries to address every day. It's been an education to sign up for the daily news releases. I recommend it. Particularly to Sen. Norm Coleman.

I'm new to this site, so I may be missing a lot of history behind this story.  But the vehemence of your comments aimed at the US surprise me a little.  First let me say that like you, I find the tragedies in Darfur and Africa to be incredible--in fact I don't quite have the words to describe the catastrophe, and the level of anguish that I and others feel for this situation.

And of course I understand that the US is a very wealthy country.

But why do you direct your vitriol toward the US, and toward the President?  The UN would seem to have the first responsiblility here, followed closely by those European countries that have close colonial ties to Africa.  Why is the US the point of your attack?

I realize that many around the world disagree with US foreign policy in the Mid East.  But as a result, are their troops and efforts not available for grave issues such as this?  Why wouldn't your call be to countries with available troops, such as France, Spain, Germany, etc.?

by wchurchill on Fri Sep 30th, 2005 at 02:03:34 AM EST
The missing context is that Susan is an American, and that was written for a fairly partisan US focused site. She's making a domestic call for something to be done by her representatives.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Sep 30th, 2005 at 02:23:15 AM EST
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for the President to perhaps choose a different time to praise the government in Khartoum?
by BooMan on Fri Sep 30th, 2005 at 03:14:24 AM EST
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Yes, and to make sure that the U.S. State Dept. is, at the least, being responsive.]

Members of our Congress, and activists throughout the country, urged -- for quite a while -- the U.S. to take a more serious, focused interest in the crisis in the Sudan.

Now the Sudan has fallen off the pages of U.S. newspapers and is hardly ever mentioned by anyone on any television program.  (Alas, it was fashionable for a while to deplore their plight, then was forgotten about ... and i found it so ironic that it was a New Orleans paper, that's been covering so much tragedy and destruction in its own city, that published Egelund's statement.

by susanhu (susanhuatearthlinkdotnet) on Fri Sep 30th, 2005 at 11:31:50 AM EST
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Thank you, Colman.  As I said below, this was a HOT topic in the U.S. for some time.  And now everyone's forgotten about it -- from the media to the politicians.  And, apparently, the State Dept. and the president.

I forget that, in other countries, people are unused to the short attention span of the U.S. towards international matters -- and domestic matters as well.  I give Katrina/Rita maybe five to six months tops, and then that entire tragedy will fall off the radar.

by susanhu (susanhuatearthlinkdotnet) on Fri Sep 30th, 2005 at 11:48:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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