Sudan: suffering in global silence

By Abigail Keefe
May 4, 2006

Right now in the northeast corner of Africa in a medium sized country called Sudan there could be hundreds of people dying. Some of violence, others of malnutrition and disease. A 2004 State Department report called the situation in the Sudan “the worst humanitarian and human rights crisis in the world today.”

The ruling Arab Muslims in the Darfur region of Sudan embarked on a mission in 2003 to ethnically cleanse their country of non-Muslim Africans. Government supported militias known as “Janjaweed” terrorize non-Muslims, and those who are not killed are forced into refugee camps. However, the standard of living in these camps is far from respectable. Many in the camps die from malnourishment and disease. There are 129 refugee camps in Sudan however, 31 of them are inaccessible because of continued violence in the areas where they are located. Meanwhile, the U.N. continues to battle the Sudanese government, local rebels and harsh environmental conditions to get what little food and supplies they can to those in need.

This is not the first crisis of this nature to occur on the international stage. In the early 1990’s, feuding warlords in Somalia were leaving thousands starving. U.S. forces stepped in to ensure food provided by the U.N. and got to those who needed it. Later in 1994, when Slobodan Milosevic and his Serbian forces were slaughtering thousands of Muslims in Bosnia, the U.S. stepped in as a large part of the U.N. Protection Force to ensure that the fighting stopped and that a peace was brokered.

In these situations, the U.S. did not hesitate to participate and even promote assisting these countries. So why does Sudan seem to have fallen by the wayside? Both the U.S. and U.N., while pleading acknowledgement of the situation, seem to have made little effort in seeking a solution to it. Food supplies and medical aid are short-term solutions to a long-term conflict. Food and supplies do not stop outright killing and rape. They do not fix a government in denial of these problems. They do not stop the displacement of thousands of Sudanese Africans to refugee camps.

In an international stage dominated by the war in Iraq, the more humanitarian tendencies of the U.S. fighting force seem to have gotten lost in the shuffle. The answer is simple: Money and troops do not appear out of thin air. Whether it is for oil or democracy, the troops and money are needed in Iraq. However, the question must be posed: What if there was no war in Iraq? Would the landscape of conflict in Sudan look different? What if half the media coverage devoted to the war in Iraq on a daily basis went to the conflict in Sudan? Would the American people look at it in a different way? My personal answer is, yes. However, with little more than a mention here and an emotional article there, this human rights disaster seems doomed to quietly wait out seemingly more significant conflicts in quiet desperation.

Posted to the web by Tim Hague

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Abigail Keefe

Abigail Keefe is a Cabrini College student studying communications, enjoying her time in Radnor, Pennsylvania. Abbie loves working for the school newspaper, the Loquitur, and is also passionate about everything that the communication field has to offer.

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