SUDAN WATCH: Four million face starvation as war brings famine to refugees of Darfur, Sudan

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Four million face starvation as war brings famine to refugees of Darfur, Sudan

A news report in today's Telegraph quotes a UN WFP officer for south Darfur, as saying: "If no more assistance is forthcoming it will be a disaster."

When the UN makes such statements, don't you wonder who they are aiming them at? Regular Sudan Watchers will have noticed that such emotive one-line statements are regularly made by the UN and aid agencies at monthly and three-monthly intervals during the run-up to UN Security Council meetings. Note too how they never put forward a proper case for the funding or give any explanation as to why AU troops are so thin on the ground in Darfur, despite the fact that the African Union has received over two hundred million dollars for 3,000 soldiers. Also, no UN figures are provided on how much Darfur costs in terms of lives lost or how many billions of dollars have been spent/will be needed, and for how long, to provide what the UN terms as a "Band-Aid" to prop up genocidal dictators in Khartoum and cushion relations between members of the UN Security Council.

Where are all the African and Arab voices around the world shouting genocide, clamouring for food, water, aid, and jumping up and down calling for action and justice for Darfur? Americans hoot and holler about genocide and human rights in Darfur but are relatively silent when it comes to anything that does not involve throwing money at Darfur. American bloggers don't seem to have much to say about the US delaying Security Council action on bringing Darfur war criminals to court asap. Another 10,000 Sudanese have died since the US started arguing against using the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Unlike many other countries, America stands alone with China and several other rogue states in not supporting the ICC. The US refuses to join the ICC incase it harms US personnel. And the US refuses to join in with everyone else and sign up to the Kyoto agreement to help protect the environment, incase such a move harms US industry. America is bound to end up with another bloody nose like 9/11 if it does not start learning humility and listen to the rest of the world.

There are many ancient cultures around the world that need to be respected. Countries with long histories of wars. Centuries of knocks to inhabitants from strong stock with long-held traditions and faiths. America is only 200 something years old. Westminster Abbey in London is going on 800 years old. Only 10% of Americans are passport holders. America is like a baby trying to run before it can walk and got its first knock on 9/11.

What I am saying here is that America, whether it likes it or not, still has a lot to learn to fit in with the rest of the world. If the US continues to think it can go it alone and refuses to see itself the way the rest of the world sees it [talking pre 9/11 here, about America's gross consumerism and being the new loud kid on the block] it does so at its peril. It has few friends and needs to respect the ones its got while learning to grow up.

According to the UN, Darfur continues to be the world's greatest humanitarian disaster. And the British government say the crisis in Darfur will go on for another two years. It looks like members of the UN Security Council, especially China, are simply counting on the West to continue pouring billions of taxpayers' dollars into aid and development for the Sudanese so countries like China can carry on their business as usual in the Sudan while millions of Sudanese are homeless or imprisoned, for years on end, in concentration camps provided by the West. Even the UN says 10,000 refugees continue to die each month from malnutrition or disease.

Note, the following excerpt from today's Telegraph points out how Khartoum are still not providing unimpeded access for aid, despite demands by UN Security Council resolutions over the past ten months:

In the nearby mountains of eastern Jebel Mara, Janjaweed attacks have hampered even the aid agencies' food deliveries. Last week, however, the first convoy for four months ventured into the area and distributed 14 lorry loads of grain to desperate villagers.

Local leaders complain that the government is thwarting efforts to get food through. "The government blocks the roads that people use for trade," complained Omar Abido, the traditional ruler of Muhajeria. "Sugar used to be 1,000 dinars a bag. Now it is 1,500. Benzine used to be 30,000 dinars a barrel. Now it is 70,000.

"The government diverts all commercial lorries that are supposed to come through here," he said. "There have been no trucks from Khartoum for three months."

For Halim Osman, pausing to stare in blank reproach through the woven grass fence before wandering dejectedly away from the feeding station, the outlook is bleak: compounding problems on the ground, the World Food Programme has so far received only 55 per cent of the £274 million that it appealed for last year.

Aloys Sema, the WFP officer for south Darfur, said: "If no more assistance is forthcoming it will be a disaster."

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At 16 months, Mohammed must be fed via a tube

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