Opinion » Columnists

Disaster in Darfur

Greatest humanitarian catastrophe passes unnoticed.
Few international media sources are running the story about Darfur, where the worst humanitarian disaster is unfolding before the blinkered eyes of the international community which has other preoccupations at present.

A civil war has raged on and off for the last two decades in the southern Sudan, where Arab Janjaweed militia and negro militants have fought bitterly, the former to dominate the southern area of the country (which has oil) and the latter to fight for their culture and to have a fair representation in the organs of power.

Although a ceasefire and subsequent peace agreement have been signed between the Sudanese President Hassan Al-Bashir and the Chairman of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), John Garang, in Darfur the fighting goes on unabated.

Three million are classified as Internally Displaced, meaning that they have been forced out of their homes, which in many cases have been destroyed, burned to the ground in an orgy of looting. Rape, beatings, summary executions have ravaged the area around Darfur in the last few months, leaving thousands of people dead.

Those left alive are living in Hell. They have no food, poor access to drinking water and on top of this, an epidemic of Ebola has broken out in the region. With the rainy season due in a few weeks, it is already too late to begin the planting season and therefore endemic hunger is not a probability, but a certainty.

Meanwhile what does the international community do? It donates less than half the 8.8 million USD needed by the UNO for food distribution programmes, while the USA spends two hundred thousand million dollars on its act of butchery in Iraq.

Thousands of children have been separated from their parents, not even knowing whether they are alive, while the livelihoods of 15 million children in the country are at risk, according to declarations by UNICEF.

Kofi Annan speaks of a "grave humanitarian emergency", the UN Security Council speaks of "the biggest humanitarian disaster", the UN Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Director Jan Egeland speaks of "racing against the clock" but the killing goes on, the looting goes on, the mass rapes go on, the burning of farms goes on, the acts of violence, in which people are hacked to death because they are from the wrong tribe, go on.

And what does the international community do? It turns a blind eye and pretends that nothing has happened. The story does not even make it to many so-called news outlets. What a callous, inhumane, uncaring, selfish world we have created.

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