SUDAN WATCH: My vent over Darfur at the blog of British Labour MP Clive Soley

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

My vent over Darfur at the blog of British Labour MP Clive Soley

Here is a copy of a comment I have just posted at the blog of British MP Clive Soley:

Hi guys, sorry it's me here again to bug you about Darfur. Thanks for discussing the hugely important issue of aid. I've blogged about the Darfur crisis almost every day for the past six months now and the refugees' situation appears to be as dire as ever.

Back in April, the death toll in Darfur was reported as 10,000. Now it stands at 70,000 since March. 10,000 are now dying every month. 85% of those now in camps who are dying, are losing their lives because of food shortages and disease.

Today, the Scotsman's report on Sudan is headed "DARFUR FACING FOOD CRISIS ON A SCALE NEVER SEEN BEFORE"

If we, who have so much in the West, cannot help the people of Darfur who are being killed off by their own government, what possible help can other people in countries like Uganda, Congo etc., hope for? Surely by now, they must be losing all hope. I know I am.

The U.S. and U.K. have given hundreds of millions of dollars for Darfur. Other countries around the world have given generously. But it seems that the whole of one years contribution for Darfur so far, is the equivalent of what is being spent on Iraq every 1 - 2 days.

(1) Why is the UN not getting the money it is asking for to help Darfur?

Are the UN crying wolf and don't really need the money for Darfur? Are they and the aid agencies using ploys and hyping the crisis every two months to fundraise? Whenever news breaks through on how the situation in Darfur is worsening, it seems to coincide with fundraising initiatives by aid agencies from around the world - including the U.N.

(2) Why does the U.N. not name and shame the countries who have pledged but are not paying? Is the UK one of those countries?

(3) Why is the African Union saying the reason for not sending the 300 Rwandan troops into Darfur last weekend was due to lack of funding?

Maybe the reason for the delay in AU troops getting into Darfur is that nobody is providing back up to the African Union quickly enough. The only explanation I can think of is that countries are saying to the media they are doing this, that and the other, but in reality they are not paying their pledges on time. It is vital that the African Union do not fail. The African Union is a ray of hope for Africa. If it is seen to be failing, it will lose credibility. It must succeed in Sudan.

(4) Why is China that sits on the UN Security Council, with its huge oil interests in Sudan, getting away with not being a major donor? Can't the UK ask them to kindly pay for or send a whole load of food and aid - and trucks and helicopters to distribute the food - and 70,000 police to provide safe passage for the aid?

China has oil operations in the vicinity of Darfur and staff of 10,000 in Sudan. Can't China chivvy up the Asian countries to help? It would sure make them look good in the worlds eyes. China needs some good PR - especially when it comes to humanitarian issues.

And what about India, Pakistan, Brazil, Algeria ... and all those within the 191 member states under the UN umbrella.

(5) Why is the U.S. who makes a big deal about declaring genocide in Darfur, being so stingy (and slow) in only two military planes to transport the AU troops into Darfur? (note this was just announced a few days ago - after the AU troops were supposed to leave at the weekend - if they were set to leave, who was transporting them to Darfur? I thought Norway and Australia and Canada were going to help. Who is co-ordinating the Wests efforts with the AU? Sounds like a shambles.

The U.K. paid for the last batch of Nigerian troops to enter Sudan and funding their rations. You can fit the UK, size wise into the State of Texas.

(6) Why is Sudan still sitting on the UN panel for human rights while it allows its people to die of starvation and disease because it refuses outside help? And why is oil rich Sudan getting away with not paying to feed its own people?

The media are really doing a poor job of investigative journalism. And the politicians aren't telling the story as it really is. What are we the people - the citizens of the world - supposed to think, do and feel?

For all the press releases that are issued out of the U.N. and Washington, I really cannot understand the lack of hard news regarding the desperate shortage of food - and why 85% of those now in the camps who are dying, are losing their lives because of food shortages and disease.

Today, the Scotsman reports that Darfur is facing an "unprecedented food crisis" worse than the famines of recent decades, the Red Cross said yesterday.

I'm lost for words now when it comes to trying to understand why the refugees in the camps are dying unnecessarily, and what will become of them in the camps over the next year or two if they are not getting enough food now because of lack of funding.

Does anybody know what is really going on and what we can do to help? Communications technology is not really empowering us to get our voices heard, it's just forcing us into becoming helpless passive voyeurs. I feel sad. I have given my time, energy and money and contacted my MP. Bottom line is, nothing seems to have made any real difference. I am exhausted and disillusioned with the whole political and UN process - and lack of news and accountability. At least here at Clive's blog I feel there is somewhere to go and have a vent that at least has a good chance of being heard. Thanks.

Here is link to the Scotsman report:


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