Threat of famine in Sudan
May 24, 2004 6:04 PM   Subscribe

The situation in Sudan is grim. About a million people have been displaced and the threat of mass starvation is real. The Sudanese government said today that it would grant permits to aid workers to enter Darfur. One group is the International Committee of Red Cross. You can find donation information on their website.
posted by john (11 comments total)
Sudan is under a "genocide warning" from the US Holocaust Museum's Committee on Conscience. Many resources for background info available from the linked site.
posted by arco at 6:08 PM on May 24, 2004

Although I had to forgo my monthly donation to Kerry, consider the donatin' done from this part. Seriously, how in the hell can we in the West be so damn glib about Africa, and so damn tense about everywhere else? I'd make some kinda riviera-esque accusation of racism, but really what's the point? I'm afraid that whatever I donate will be a drop in the ocean to what's needed.

If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go shoot my bow for while.
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:52 PM on May 24, 2004

MSF/ Doctors Without Borders says: In spite of GOS [Gov't of Sudan] promises to expedite the provision of assistance, bureaucratic barriers placed in front of aid agencies significantly inhibit immediate action. In addition, the GOS has not taken action to stop violence against civilians.

Wulfgar!, I know how you feel. But we have to avoid being led into inaction by our despair. At this point, a drop in the ocean can save a life.
posted by stonerose at 6:55 PM on May 24, 2004

It is ethnic cleansing.. Arab on Black.. institutionalized genocide by Sudanese Arabs.

"One refugee told New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof that the Arabs want to get rid of anyone with black skin. . . . There are no blacks left in the area he fled."
posted by stbalbach at 9:06 PM on May 24, 2004

The webpage from the Holocaust museum suggests that ethnic conflicts are actually more complicated than simply Arab Muslims against Black Christians, though this is the way it is sometimes characterised in the news. They say:
This description contains some truth, but does not entirely capture the complexity of the situation. For example, the Nuba peoples who have suffered so much live in central Sudan, and many of them are Muslims. And one pernicious government strategy - part of its "divide to destroy" efforts - has been to encourage fighting within and among groups in the South, especially the Dinka and Nuer, with devastating effects for civilian members of those groups. In any event, the primary author of the Sudanese catastrophe over the past decade has been the Khartoum-based government of Omar el-Bashir, an army officer who seized power in a 1989 coup.

The Sudanese government uses a divide-to-destroy strategy to pit ethnic groups against each other, with devastating effects for civilians. Government-sponsored militias torch houses, loot food supplies and other property, and rape and murder with impunity. The government tolerates the taking of slaves, along with other booty, by Arab tribal militias that raid villages in the south and the Nuba Mountains. It also uses religion as a spur to violence, justifying persecution of and attacks against Christians, followers of traditional indigenous religions and Muslims who reject the government's extreme form of Islam.
posted by jb at 10:18 PM on May 24, 2004

jb you are confusing the supposedly winding down conflict (which involved Government organization against the mostly animist but some Christian south) with the current situation in Dafur, which is in the West.

In the Darfur ethnic cleansing, it's a similar situation except it's Muslim-on-Muslim... However the Economist reported that the "Muslim" Arabs have burnt several local mosques and defecated on Qurans. The conflict in the West is between pro-Government militia horseman, many of them criminals given weapons and told to loot, pillage, rape, and kill, who are Arab, and the local residents who are not Arab. One other factor is that most "Arabs" in Sudan have lots of "African" blood and some might find it hard to tell some "Arabs" from some "Africans".

In both cases, the religious/ethnic divisions are just useful ways for the Government to divide people so that they can conquer the oil, or in the case of the West, build a pipeline to send oil to other places. The case of the South has a bit more, shall we say equality, in that the people of the South have been protesting for more autonomy, whereas the people in Darfur are basically being premeptorily ethnicly-cleansed before it comes to that. It's all about control of people and resources, the religious/ethnic stuff just makes it easier to do.

There are indications that the Southern conflict is winding down... because of the lack of either weapons or support for the native people of Darfur, there is very little that can be done-- it's not a matter of negotiation between two sides but one of depending entirely on the Sudanese government to call off their dogs and allow aid workers to come in.
posted by cell divide at 10:29 PM on May 24, 2004

Thanks for posting on this vastly under-reported subject.
posted by scarabic at 11:34 PM on May 24, 2004

Our local Episcopal dioscese is staging a protest march in Washington, DC tomorrow at 10:30 am. They've had church schools and libraries bulldozed by the government in Sudan recently.
posted by junkbox at 9:21 AM on May 25, 2004

This is horrible.

Thanks, john, for helping me see beyond my Iraqvisionâ„¢ trance.

All the fucking US taxpayer dollars going to pay soldiers of fortune in Iraq....( private contractors, I mean, and not the woefully underpaid US troiops there )

A fraction of this payroll fortune could probably transform the Sudan.

[Wulfgar! - For what it's worth, you've inspired my stingy heart. I made a donation too. And - if you ever make it this way - you're welcome to the big fat turkeys running around in my backyard. You'd need a bow for self defense against those birds.]
posted by troutfishing at 9:36 AM on May 25, 2004

Only a decision by other countries to declare Sudan's government illegitimate, followed by a military intervention, can stop yet another incident of mass slaughter.

Unfortunately, nothing will happen until after huge numbers of people are dead, just like in the Congo in the late 90s. Action won't come from the UN, which has just renominated Sudan as one of the members of its Human Rights Commission (yes, you read that right). And after the disaster of the Iraq war, there is no longer any consensus for the idea of intervening in another country, even if it is ruled by a brutal regime. This kind of tragedy is likely to become more common.
posted by fuzz at 10:23 AM on May 25, 2004

Unfortunately, nothing will may happen until even after huge numbers of people are dead.

the ICRC will get a (meager) donation from me as well. i've never realized what a valuable organization it is.

it's a darn shame that this brain-dead war in Iraq will adversely affect any international peace-keeping missions for the near term.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:10 AM on May 25, 2004

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