ME and Ophelia

Friday, June 04, 2004


Is this an outrageous scandal or what? Here are extracts from yesterday's BBC report on the 'thousands starving in Darfur:

"...At an emergency donors' meeting today, the UN is appealing for $236m it says is vital to avert a humanitarian disaster in western Sudan. The UN also said many thousands more could die even if aid was sent immediately. The US pledged $188m over 18 months and the EU 10m euros. But UN officials believe 300,000 people will die even if the aid operation begins now.

Jan Egeland, UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, said that the international community had been too slow to react to the crisis. "We admit we are late," he said. "Constraints have been so great, some agencies have been so slow, some donors have been so slow, the government restrictions have been so many." UN officials blame Sudan's government, which they say supports the militias as they rape and kill Darfur's people.

The rainy season is about to start in Darfur, and roads will turn to quagmire. Aid agencies say they will have to resort to air drops to get supplies through - a desperate measure which is rarely very successful..."

- - -

Who are these people? Why are they getting away with it?

My questions on the above post are: Which agencies have been so slow? Who are they? What exactly is the "international community"? Why is there no accountability?

It's almost 20 years since Live Aid's "Feed the World" concert. Sir Bob Geldof was loud and clear in publicising the impossible task of transporting aid to the needy. Since that time, millions of people around the world have continued to donate mountains of hard earned cash to Oxfam, Red Cross, Christian Aid, to name a few. What is the point of these donations and the public funds distributed on our behalf by governments?

People donate in the belief that those who are suffering, particularly in Africa, will be helped and that crises will be anticipated and responded to. Many friends of mine have raised funds over decades for charities, particularly Oxfam, Red Cross, Mother's Union and Christian Aid. I, along with them - and millions of others - have donated annually for the past 35 years.

Now, all of a sudden yesterday, an "emergency" donors meeting takes place in Geneva where the UN is asking for $236m to help the people of Darfur - even though it admits "they are a bit late" and that 300,000 people will die even if the aid operation begins now?

The UN asks for $236m like it is a drop in the ocean and puts the blame for today's situation on donors and the Sudanese government. Who's blaming the EU, UN and the charities funded by the public? After all that's been said and done about the Holocaust, Bosnia and Rwanda: what is going on with these cash mountains of aid in this day and age?

Who is accountable for this outrageous scandal? For a start, the EU, UN and all charities fundraising in the name of Africa ought to be made accountable. They should be sorted out once and for all. Even if it takes years. A great big shake up. Ineffective bureaucrats and charities spending tax payers' hard earned cash on cushy jobs, fat salaries, expense accounts, travel and meetings in exotic locations, swish premises, glossy marketing campaigns and wasteful bureaucracy to justify their positions.

After Bosnia and Rwanda, they can't be allowed to get away with it. They've had enough years. Let's shake them up. Monitor them. Make them work better. Put the heat on them. Name and shame them. If their jobs and reputations are put under real pressure, they will put real pressure on politicians. And perhaps the whole business of providing timely help and protection to people in times of crisis - such as genocide in Darfur - could be made to run much more efficiently and effectively.

How can the EU and UN allow this happen? Or is it just a fact of life. Like we are all ants. Squish. There goes another 300,000. Who cares? America and Europe sure cared about 3,000 of their own on 9/11. Is an American or European life of more value than an Sudanese life? And if it seems so, who says it has to continue that way?

Note the contrast of information in the next three posts, below - especially from Bono. And the "odd' sentence by the UN top dog on human rights: does it mean the Darfurians have refused to accept aid (on a hunger strike for military intervention?) for fear of being looted - and slaughtered? Oh God, I hope not.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 6/04/2004
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