Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Now or never in Darfur

Eric Reeves, an english professor at Smith College, has written a provocative article in The New Republic Online (registration required):

Now or never in Darfur:
"What will happen after humanitarian organizations leave Darfur? The question grows more relevant daily. For much of 2004, humanitarian groups ramped up their operations in Darfur. These efforts temporarily blocked the genocidal aims of the Sudanese government from coming to full fruition. Throughout 2003 and 2004, government-backed militias terrorized Darfur's African tribal populations, evicting them from their villages and cutting them off from their livelihoods. Many ended up in refugee camps, where only the efforts of humanitarian groups have allowed them to stay alive. Sudan's leaders would like nothing more than to see these groups leave the country, so that disease and malnutrition can finish the work the militias started three years ago...."
With all the crises that develop worldwide, it is easy to get overwhelmed by it all. Apathy has killed people in every time and every place. How many Jews might have been spared had the Allies not ignored or scoffed at news filtering out of the Third Reich during the 1930s? How much suffering could have been alleviated in the former Yugoslavia had the world been willing to act earlier? More recently in Africa, the world saw a horrible genocide in Rwanda and did little to stop it. Now in the Darfur region of Sudan, the events unfolding bring a sense of familiarity.

The UN removed "nonessential" staff last month, as did some humanitarian organizations, due to attacks on aid workers. The janjaweed militias are becomong bolder in their attacks, and many organizations feel they cannot act in safety. The Sudanese staff will remain behind, but without the eyes and ears of the international community in Sudan, they may be in danger.

The resources that aid workers count on are dwindling, due to what Eric Reeves calls "donor fatigue". The future of the Darfur region may well depend on Christians not succumbing to fatigue or despair.

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