Exactly what does spitting into the wind feel like?
I, along with others who stress the need to right the wrongs of Darfur are the folks to ask. We are the experts.
There are some themes and issues that get mentioned often on this blog. Sometimes I admit in a preachy way. But so be it.
One of those international issues with a clear moral foundation that requires our attention is Darfur where blood and fear are more common than anything else. Sure, the issues are highly complex, but I strongly state that denying justice and safety to those affected now only make the matters on the ground in that region far more problematic to resolve.
Now comes a column by a Sudan expert, Professor Eric Reeves from Smith College, that writes things might get much worse very quickly. The article first appeared in the Washington Post, and was reprinted in the Tuesday edition of The Capital Times. History will harshly judge our inaction to this human catastrophe.
Paralyzing seasonal rains begin in earnest in June throughout the region. In eastern Chad, an obscenely underreported humanitarian crisis has put half a million Darfuri refugees and Chadian displaced persons at acute risk because of insecurity spilling over from Darfur. A European Union force deploying to eastern Chad may provide some of the protection necessary to halt the most threatening violence, but much depends on whether the force is perceived as an extension of a long-term French military presence that has supported Chadian President Idriss Déby.
In Darfur itself, however, the protection force authorized by the U.N. Security Council last July has stalled badly. Little more than a slightly augmented version of the African Union mission, it risks failing soon if it cannot do much better than its weak and undermanned predecessor. Khartoum refuses to accept key contingents from non-African countries and obstructs force deployment and operations in a range of ways. Indeed, nothing contributes more to what Human Rights Watchrecently described as “chaos by design.” While a variety of rebel groups, bandits and opportunistic armed elements contribute to the violence that threatens humanitarians, Khartoum has invested virtually nothing in providing security for Darfuris or humanitarians. On the contrary, reports from the field make clear that a climate of hostility, obstruction and abuse defines the working environment for all aid organizations. Khartoum still refuses to disarm its brutal Arab militia forces, the Janjaweed. Recently, in a campaign reminiscent of the worst military violence of the genocide’s early years, Khartoum’s regular ground and air forces coordinated with the Janjaweed in massive scorched-earth assaults against civilian villages in West Darfur.
The international community has waited far too long to come to terms with the brutal motives behind Khartoum’s simultaneous blocking of a U.N.-authorized protection force and its unconstrained harassment of humanitarian operations. Nothing short of the most urgent deployment of security forces will allow food to be moved into areas of greatest need. And nothing less than an equally urgent commitment to protect aid operations will permit an expanded humanitarian reach in the critical three months before the start of the rainy season. If Khartoum is not confronted over its deadly policies of fostering insecurity while obstructing humanitarian operations, then we may measure the consequences in hundreds of thousands of lives lost. The choice is before us now.
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