Genocide and Complex Humanitarian Emergency

The UN brokered peace deal, which would bring in 27,000 UN peacekeepers into the conflict-riven country of Sudan, especially to its western province of Darfur can’t come any sooner. Since the conflict began in the early part of this decade at a minimum 200,000 people have died and at least 2 million have been displaced and according Jan Egeland of the United Nations, a monumental humanitarian problem is growing that is affecting more than 4 million people in the middle of resource-rich North-Central Africa. 

Recently, African Union troops who were maintaining a very fragile peace came under fire and 10 African Union troops were killed by none other than Darfurian rebel forces. In a sustained attack the AU camp was completely overrun and the weapons cache was looted by the rebel forces. The AU troops are there to protect the Darfurian people (or the ethnic Fur group), but with the attacks the AU troops have vacated their base camp. This does not augur well for refugees and other unarmed civilians; they are likely to bear the brunt of the violence and catastrophic human rights violations. With the Darfurian rebel groups, the Sudanese military, the Sudanese government backed Janjaweed militia, and the African Union troops, the situation on the ground is extremely volatile.  Many states may now develop cold feet and fear sending their troops into harms way.

If this tells us anything, it tells us that humanitarian interventions are complex and costly. But, more importantly, it indicates that more than 50 years after independence, Sub-Saharan African states are struggling to construct a viable and functional nation-state that can offer a modicum of basic security that would allow the people to go about their daily business without being killed or maimed. If the UN is to successfully implement its ambitious Millennium Development Goals, it has to definitely start with the very basic, but extraordinarily complex task of building peace from the bottom up. In this case, the presence of UN troops is a short-term solution, in the long-run the African states have to figure out how to divide their wealth, compromise and live peacefully, instead of playing out their ethnic hatreds. However, this is easier said than done.

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3 Responses to “Genocide and Complex Humanitarian Emergency”

  1. Margaret Kettles Says:

    I feel that the situation in Africa is very similar to that of Iraq and that of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s: in each area, sects are fighting against the artificial boundaries drawn post-World War II that place many groups under one leadership and within one country. Many suggest that the further partitioning of current countries to allow each major group to have autonomy would end a lot of conflict. I disagree with this view. The former Yugoslavia has split into several independent entities, but conflict and humanitarian crises remain. Groups within countries have become interdependent; they cannot be easily separated since the boundaries between them have blurred. I don’t know what a solution for this problem could be, but I feel confident that a lasting peace would require a plan devised by the people themselves. UN intervention can bring only a cessation of violence. It cannot create true peace and in many cases only increases reliance on international aid.

  2. Rachel Berkowitz Says:

    I just wanted to let people know about an on campus group dedicated to helping the resolve the Darfur conflict. We are called STAND “Students Take Action Now: Darfur.” We have many projects under way. The one that is most accessible to the rest of the school is called Darfur Project. We are sending a poster with a picture from Darfur and notes and signatures from students to every presidential candidate. We have a table in the UC where you can sign the poster with markers. You are free to write anything or just sign your name. We are sending this first poster to Senator Obama. he has a very good policy on Darfur, this poster is encouraging him to keep these promises and to keep fighting for Darfur. Later we will send the posters to candidates who do not put Darfur as a high priority in their campaign, urging them to take a stand and help to resolve a major world conflict.

    Please come and sign.

  3. Janette Ekanem Says:

    A long term strategy to stop the violence in Darfur is building a stable and effective education system for youth. I believe that many conflicts throughout Africa are rooted in the perpetuation of internalized racism and oppression. Unfortunately, young men and women have been, and continue to be, susceptible to the cycle of hatred and violence in the Darfur region. Thoroughly educating the youth will give them an impetus to rebuild a fair and just government.


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