The LA Times has an excellent (and disturbing) story on Darfur. The conclusion: it’s already too late. (Registration requried, but free, and worth it to read this excellent piece.) No matter what the international community does at this point, hundreds of thousands of people will die of starvation in western Sudan and eastern Chad. World Food Programme is reaching 800,000 of the 1.2 million refugees, but the lack of roads, security concerns and the Khartoum government’s lack of cooperation make it difficult to reach all those in need. The real suffering may be yet to come – since no one in Darfur was able to plant crops (and those planted were destroyed by the militias), over 2 million people may be starving come October.
While the world continues to debate whether or not what’s happening in Sudan constitutes genocide, a representative of Human Rights Watch offers the following: “Frankly, the job is just about done. They have ethnically cleansed a million people from their homes.”
The LA Times story offers an interesting bit of analysis to explain why world governments have sat on the sidelines of this conflict for 16 months. Quoting John Prendergast with the International Crisis Group, the story speculates that the US and others stayed uninvolved with Darfur out of fear of upsetting the peace process in Southern Sudan. As a result:
“Once Khartoum realized countries like Britain, America, Norway and the U.N. Security Council wanted to get Naivasha done first, they just started stringing out the Naivasha process,” Prendergast said. “They realized as long as the process was going on, they would have a cover for their activities in Darfur.”
There’s another reason, of course. With conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s obvious that neither the US or the UK would be likely to intervene militarily in Sudan. NATO is overcommitted in Afghanistan; neither the UN nor individual African nations have much peacekeeping capacity, and that capacity is deployed in DRC and Cote D’Ivoire. Not only does Bush’s “war on terror” chase critical African stories off the front page – it also helps ensure that there will be little or no intervention into these conflicts.