ME and Ophelia

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Time to stop dragging our feet. Time to act

For well over a month now the mighty Scaryduck has been reading my posts on ethnic cleansing in Sudan. Today he writes a great post on the Sudan, copied here in full:

"A population of over a million black Africans are being displaced by Arab militias in Darfur, while the Muslim-dominated government looks on. Refugees escaping over the border into Chad speak of wholesale murder, rape, destruction of livestock and villages, while the world has been nicely diverted by the continuing unpleasantness in Iraq and the less-than-effective War on Terrorism. Even in Chad, these refugees are not safe, with Janjaweed militias following them over the border to continue their harrassment.

A recent peace deal has ended the twenty-one year civil war between government forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Army, who were fighting for a Christian state in the south. However, this deal does nothing to address the situation in Darfur in the West, described by the UN as "the world's worst humanitarian crisis", and little or nothing is being done to rectify the situation.

It is in the West's interests to see a stable Sudan. It is a country, after all, blessed with rich deposits of oil, which any government worth their salt would be clamouring to exploit in the current uncertain market. Secondly, Sudan has strong links to Al-Qaeda, with Osama bin Laden being based in Khartoum during the 1990s. If the West is at all interested in winning their War on Terrorism, then a peaceful solution to Sudan's problems should be fostered at the earliest convenience.

Call me Mr Cynical if you like, but the West's reluctance to get involved is absolutely nothing to do with the fact that they are pandering to Gulf oil-producing states who have them by the short and curlies with those all-important fuel reserves. At all. And you can quote me on that. While other humanitarian disasters have brought gasps of disbelief and floods of aid, Sudan has kept this genocide under wraps and away from the prying lenses of Western media. Time to stop dragging our feet, then. Time to act."
- - -

Britain rejects intervention despite warnings of 350,000 deaths in the next few months

Currently, direct links to posts within the Passion of the Present are not working on my Safari browser. I am therefore copying here in full the Telegraph report they are pointing to in their post dated June 01, 2004. The report, written by Adrian Blomfield in Nairobi, was filed on May 31, 2004:

"Britain has said it will not support calls for military intervention in Sudan despite warnings that a government campaign of ethnic cleansing against black Muslims in Darfur could cause 350,000 deaths in the next few months. Alan Goulty, Tony Blair's special envoy to Sudan, said he also opposed sanctions against Khartoum.

The comments are likely to widen a foreign policy rift between Britain and America, the two most important western players in Sudan.

United States officials are convinced that sanctions are the only way of exerting meaningful pressure on Khartoum to avert a catastrophe that is already being compared with the genocide in Rwanda 10 years ago. But Mr Goulty does not agree. "In the long term, threats of sanctions don't seem likely to produce immediate action and immediate action is what we need," he said. "The more time we spend dithering, the more people will die."

The West has tried to ignore Darfur's war, described by the United Nations as the world's worst humanitarian crisis, since it began a year ago. It is now too late to stop the ethnic cleansing. Darfur, an area the size of France, is largely empty. Arab militiamen on horses and camels, armed and funded by kinsmen in Khartoum, have ridden across Darfur, burning villages, raping women and executing men of fighting age.

About 30,000 people have been killed. More than a million black Muslim civilians accused by Khartoum of supporting rebels fighting its political and economic marginalisation of Darfur have fled. Most of them languish in camps in Darfur's desert and Khartoum has done its best to ensure aid organisations cannot get there to feed them. With seasonal rains expected any day, their plight can only worsen.

The only roads in Darfur and neighbouring Chad, to where at least 200,000 refugees have fled, cross dry river beds which fill up with water when the rain begins. Aid convoys will not be able to reach the overcrowded camps, where festering disease will be worsened by the rain, for at least two months.

Last week, the International Crisis Group, a respected think tank, called on the UN Security Council to consider authorising the use of force to disarm the militias as the only way to ensure the delivery of emergency food and medicine. Mr Goulty insists that military intervention would be a drastic and ineffective response to the crisis. "It would be very expensive, fraught with difficulties and hard to set up in a hurry," he said.

Britain has long preferred a policy of "quiet diplomacy" with Khartoum. British diplomats say their patience, as much as American bullying, led to a peace deal signed last week that could end a separate war, waged intermittently for half a century, between the government and non-Muslim rebels in the south."

Note: Telegraph report dated 30 May 2004: Arab militia use 'rape camps' for ethnic cleansing of Sudan.
- - -

ON MAY 30, 2004
Oxfam launched a new appeal for Western Sudan

Here is a copy of Passion of the Present's post dated May 31, 2004: "Oxfam yesterday launched a new appeal for Western Sudan. You can donate online. If you want to check where your money would go, their Sudan page includes a summary of current Oxfam activities in the area."
- - -

Note: All of my previous posts on the Sudan are now combined in May 30, 2004 post re Kofi Annan's visit to Harvard in Boston on June 10, 2004 and planning of a peace rally for the Sudan by Jim Moore and several others living in the Cambridge/Boston area.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 6/01/2004
Comments: Post a Comment
0 comments Newer›  ‹Older