Thursday, July 01, 2004

Global Eye on Sudan

It may be too little too late, but it appears that the global community is finally beginning to pay attention to the horrors happening in Sudanese Darfur.

Terms like "ethnic cleansing" and "genocide" are now being used unapologetically to describe the situation. Satellite photographs show nearly 400 black African villages destroyed, while neighboring Arab villages remain untouched.

The BBC offers a good summary of the situation;

...The conflict began in the arid and impoverished region early last year after a rebel group began attacking government targets, claiming that the region was being neglected by Khartoum.

The rebels say the government is oppressing black Africans in favour of Arabs.

Historically, there has long been tension between the two communities over land and grazing rights.

There are two rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (Jem), which have been linked to senior Sudanese opposition politician Hassan al-Turabi...

...The government began mobilising a horse or camel-mounted Arab militia - the Janjaweed - to tackle the insurrection.

Now numbering several thousand, this proxy force often carries out attacks on villages and towns taken by rebels shortly after bombings by government aircraft.

Human rights groups have accused the militia of numerous abuses - killing, looting and rape - of the non-Arab residents of Darfur.

The government says it has control of the region, but rebels deny this...
The satellite photos suggest these accusations are well founded.

What is the international community doing about this? U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan told Sudan's government that he wants to see progress within 48 hours. Secretary of State Colin Powell called on the United Nations to impose an arms embargo and travel ban on Arab militias. Annan and Powell are in Sudan meeting with government leaders.

What can we do? Human Rights Watch offers a number of recommendations, including resources to become better informed, and contacts for humanitarian aid.

We must do what we can do, and then trust God for the rest.

Let us pray;

Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people of Sudan, who live with injustice, terror, disease and death as their constant companions. Have mercy upon them. Help us to eliminate the cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

UPDATE: Africa Action is calling Annan and Powell's trip to Sudan "dangerously naive." They are offering a petition to sign which summarizes their understanding of the necessary response to these atrocities.

Frank T. Griswold, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, has called upon President Bush to "rise to history's challenge" and implement a comprehensive strategy to end the crisis.

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