Political Passivity and Humanitarian Decay

Refugees wait for food supplies on border of Chad and Sudan.

Refugees wait for food and shelter in South Darfur

A few years ago, while reading a random review of a television series in the LA Times, I came across a statement that will resonate with me forever: “Tragedy lurks in the corner of every decision… tragedy doesn’t always just occur, sometimes it accumulates.”  With respect to the escalating violence and eroding conditions in Darfur, and the border regions of Blue Nile, Abyei, and Nuba mountains, the international community is responsible for the tragedy that lurks behind their collective indecision and inaction.   In the wake of Mohamed Suleiman’s recent letter to President Obama, any news of the continually deteriorating conditions for the people in these targeted areas is especially poignant.  For many of the victims that manage to escape the aerial bombings, burning of villages, and gunfire, life only gets worse in the IDP camps or other areas in which they seek refuge.

A Few Numbers..

There are approximately two million internally displaced people (IDPs) in Darfur.  Of these, 1.4 million live in refugee camps, and over three million need some type of humanitarian assistance.  The UN estimates that 300,000 people have fled Darfur in 2013 alone.  This is over twice the number of  IDPs than in the past two years.   Over a million people have been displaced or otherwise traumatized (having homes or means of survival destroyed, women being raped..)  in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile (border areas that became targets due to their supposed alliances with the Southern Provinces and the SPLM). Read more of this post

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“When Will it Stop?”

Sudanese women carry water in the town of Kadugli in the northern state of South Kordofan in 2011 (AFP/File, Ashraf Shazly)

Sudanese women carry water in the town of Kadugli in the northern state of South Kordofan in 2011 (AFP/File, Ashraf Shazly)

SUDAN

The name Sudan comes from “bilad al sudan,” Arabic for “the land of the blacks.” Yet, we are bearing witness to a systematic strategy of ethnic cleansing employed by the Khartoum government against the people living in the Southern Kordofan/ Nuba Mountains State.

“They said that they want to finish off the black people; they said they want to kill them all,” – Elizabeth Kafi, a 22-year-old Nuban who said she was kidnapped in December by Sudanese uniformed soldiers.

The Sudanese government has denied all international relief to both Blue Nile and South Kordofan, starving more than half a million people and creating massive civilian displacement under the pretense of suppressing armed rebels in the Nuba Mountains. Ahmed Haroun, wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity in Darfur, now governor of South Kordofan, is employing the same strategies used in Darfur: starving “the enemy” into submission, preventing aid groups from reaching refugees, and bombing towns with aircraft and unleashing “soldiers” to rape, pillage, and kill.

With the deteriorating horrific conditions in these extremely tense border towns, this crisis is a pressing humanitarian emergency! Once again civilians are the ones suffering and privy to barbaric aerial attacks and accelerated death tolls. When will it stop? Pre-Independence, during conflict, post-Independence, post-peace treaties, genocide continues.

During Kristof’s coverage of the horrific situation, he saw a 4-year-old girl at a feeding center weighing only 22 pounds and deplorably this is only the beginning. Reports warn that when food runs out in the Nuba Mountains in two or three months, there will be mass starvation and mounting death tolls.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

“We voted for peace, but all we got was more war. When are they going to stop killing us?” Human Rights Watch interview with a displaced person in Minova.

Protests confronting the controversial November 28 elections won by incumbent President Joseph Kabila continue as “the brain” behind the presidency and the adviser that put him in power, Augustin Katumba Mwanke dies in a plane crash. Church leaders were at the forefront of the protests but were confronted with tear gas and arrests. The demonstration, called the “March of Christians” was also paying tribute to a protest 20 years ago in Kinshasa that killed more than 30 protesters. Now nearly two decades later, little has changed.

“The arrest of priests, nuns and a human rights activist in Kinshasa, along with the closure of three radio stations, are dangerous developments” The Carter Center said Friday.

BURMA

Potential leeway from the Burmese election commission traces the campaign trail as they lift the ban on political rallies. The ministerial order restricting campaign rallies was lifted just hours after the pro-Democracy candidate, Aung San Suu Kyi’s party complained its campaigning for upcoming parliamentary by-elections was being stifled. In addition, the Burmese government has said it will “seriously consider” accepting observers from neighboring countries to monitor elections taking place in April. I wonder if we can hope for some positive transformations this time around or if this is just a strategic attempt to appease the current situation with the elections looming close by.