SUDAN WATCH: Lack of access muddies death toll of 400,000+ in Darfur, Sudan

Friday, February 11, 2005

Lack of access muddies death toll of 400,000+ in Darfur, Sudan

Estimates vary widely as Sudan stalls efforts by the United Nations to survey death rates in Darfur, writes Washington Post Staff Writer Colum Lynch in an opinion piece Feb 8 - here is an excerpt:

The conflict has produced widely varied estimates of the death toll in Darfur, with the UN estimating that as many as 70,000 displaced Darfuris died between March and October 2004 and some outside analysts suggesting more than 400,000 have been killed or perished from disease or malnutrition since the violence began in February 2003.

The World Health Organization has been in tense negotiations with Sudan for about a month over allowing a team of international epidemiologists to conduct a study of mortality in Darfur. A U.N. official familiar with the discussions said Khartoum has so far refused to grant visas to the agency's specialists because Sudan is "just terrified" that a new mortality study will heighten international criticism of the government. "They think any attempt to look at mortality is going to lead to a new headline figure that is going to dominate the news for the next couple of weeks," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing concern that the confidential negotiations could be derailed by public comments. Full Story.
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Over 1.5 million people are going without the international aid they need

Sudan expert Professor Eric Reeves publishes his latest analysis, quoting the International Committee of the Red Cross as saying on Feb 9:
"We are speaking about a severely deteriorating situation. There is no place for optimism as far as the Darfur conflictual dynamics are concerned."
Professor Reeves estimates as many as 3 million people in Darfur and Chad are now food-dependent, and of these (even assuming fully adequate food distribution in Chad) over 1.5 million are going without any international food aid. Sadly, he says most of these people have not had adequate food assistance to this point in the crisis, and are thus badly weakened and acutely susceptible to disease and the effects of malnutrition.
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Needs are huge in Darfur

10 Feb Oxfam report reveals water shortages add to daily misery of camp life:

"The level of suffering that is still going on in Darfur is incredible," said Caroline Nursey, Oxfam's regional director. "In response to the natural disaster of the tsunami, the world united to save lives. In Darfur, people are dying needlessly because of other people's actions, yet the world has responded with half measures and empty promises."

Further reading:

11 Feb British Red Cross report explains the needs are huge in Darfur.

11 Feb Reuters report says WHO issues warning over meningitis: cases had been reported in the eastern Sudanese states of Gadaref and Blue Nile, bordering Ethiopia. Between 22 Jan and 2 Feb, a total of 169 cases, including 23 deaths, were reported from both states. "The Sudanese government has responded quickly and sent in vaccination teams straight away and the number of reported cases has been falling since last week," spokesman of the communicable diseases section of the WHO in Geneva, told IRIN on Friday.

11 Feb Alex de Waal in his latest essay at ZNet writes, "according to the letter of the law, it is genocide in Darfur."

11 Feb report from CNS News explains how African churches are gearing up to teach people in southern Sudan about democracy and human rights to better prepare them for the changes ahead.

12 Feb International Herald Tribune report from International: "Born with rape's stigma in Sudan".

Quotation of the Day

"We will take care of the child. It is very difficult to love a janjaweed, but we will try to accept him as our own." - Mohammad, whose sister Ashta gave birth after being raped by a janjaweed militia fighter in Darfur, Sudan. [via NYT]

capt.pdj11702111007.netherlands_world_press_photo_pdj117.jpg
Photo: First prize Portraits Stories category of the World Press Photo 2005 contest by American photographer Adam Nadel, Polaris Images, showing a portrait in Darfur, Sudan (AP Photo/Adam Nadel/ Polaris Images)

Postscript: An Indian photographer for Reuters won the World Press Photo award today for a tsumani disaster image [many more people were killed in the Sudan]
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The Sudan is a perfect example of the impotence of political solutions to the problem of evil men carrying out evil deeds

The following excerpt is from a post by Charlie at AnotherThink blog:

The Sudan is a perfect example of the impotence of political solutions to the problem of evil men carrying out evil deeds.

What should compassionate and mercy-loving people do to help the dying and starving people of Darfur?

First, give. Find a reputable charity that is working in the Sudan and make a financial commitment to their efforts. You will find a number of these organizations listed here.

Second, write to Secretary of State Rice and President Bush asking them to exert greater pressure on the government of Sudan and the UN to intervene and stop the killing.

Third, pray for peace. Pray that evil men will be stopped and brought to justice. Pray for healing, forgiveness, and the restoration of families to their homes.

Fourth, stay informed. Sudan Watch continuously updates its website with news and developments. Check there often.

God's people are to be prophetic voices in a lost world. The suffering people of Darfur have no voice. You can speak for them. You can be their voice.

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