SUDAN WATCH: Message to Sudan: International goodwill is running out

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Message to Sudan: International goodwill is running out

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, on 4 October 2005, urged the Sudanese government and Darfur rebel groups to reach a quick peace accord and rightly warned them that international goodwill was running out:
"Constructing peace is the reponsibility of all of you towards your great country, to the land where you were born and to you own people," the Dutch leader told delegates from the warring parties at African Union talks in Abuja.

"But not only is that your responsibility towards Sudan, it is also your responsibility towards the international community; a community that has invested so heavily in past years in assisting to bring a ceasefire to Darfur, in trying to alleviate the plight of so many displaced families."

"The international community wants to see results, it cannot go on spending resources on problems which should already have been resolved," Balkenende warned.

"It is therefore that I plead to you to make tough decisions that lead to peace," he said.
Darfur:  International goodwill running out

Photo: Daily life in Abu Shouk camp Darfur for internally displaced people (IDP). Mothers and children at Action Against Famine's feeding center. More than 70,000 IDP's live at the camp, with new people continuing to arrive each week. Photo by Ron Haviv/Courtesy UNICEF
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Severe humanitarian crisis continues to deteriorate

Excerpt from United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) report on Darfur (Sudan/Chad) Crisis October 2005:
An estimated 3.4 million persons, equivalent to almost 51% of the total pre-conflict population in the region, have been affected by the crisis in Darfur, and that number is expected to increase as one of the world's most severe humanitarian crises continues to deteriorate. Some 1.87 million of this number are currently internally displaced. Approximately 1.6 million are children under 18 years of age - while over 510,000 are children under five.

For 32 months, marauding Janjaweed militia groups have driven Darfur villagers from their homes, stolen their cattle, destroyed wells and burnt buildings. The threat of violence continues, and villagers who are afraid to return home have flooded into urban areas and across the border into Chad.

Despite the international effort, many of the basic needs of the people of Darfur, both in Sudan and in the refugee camps of Chad, are still not being met."
Armed Zagawa

Photo: Armed Zagawa return to Sudan from Chad with their herds. The Zagawa fled during the war and still are not able to return to their villages, instead spending their nights in the mountains on the border. Their families, meanwhile, live in camps in Chad. They have had clashes with the Janjaweed, Arab militias. Photo by Ron Haviv/Courtesy UNICEF

For nearly two years, the conflict in Darfur has torn apart the lives of over 3.4 million people, mostly women and children. Many women and girls are attacked while facing the danger of being raped while performing daily acts of survival, such as gathering firewood. Many families pushed out of their homes have become refugees across Sudan and into neighboring countries.

Ron Haviv's images reflect the resiliency of a people who continue to be torn apart by internal conflict and the courage with which they face their reality.

Arab herds

Herds owned by Arab tribes graze and move through a Fur tribe village that was ethnically cleansed and destroyed by Janjaweed, a warring group from the Arab tribes, the previous year. Part of the conflict in Darfur relates to grazing rights, cattle movement and water disputes between the different sides.

Above photos by Ron Haviv, captions and text courtesy UNICEF. Ron Haviv's Darfur images will be exhibited at the United Nations Building in New York from September 29 to October 30.

See UNICEF photo exhibition dedicated to children of Darfur.

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