Sunday, April 29, 2007

Crisis or cash cow?

The Sudanese government recently refused to allow the World Food Programme to bring 100,000 metric tons of sorghum flour into the country to feed the Darfur refugees. The reason was that the government claimed the sorghum was genetically modified, or GM. First of all, there is no such thing as genetically modified sorghum in the world today. Second of all, even if there was – why would the government object to the food needed to keep its own citizens alive?

The real reason behind the Sudanese government’s attempt to blockade this sorghum is because it is trying to pressure the WFP to buy the flour from Sudan. In other words – the Sudanese government wants to make a profit off of this disaster.

In my mind, I have to wonder that if the Sudanese government has the sorghum supplies available to gladly sell to WFP, why isn’t the government using it to aid the plight of its people? If supplies exist then why is there a famine? I believe it’s just one more indication of the marginalization of Darfur by the central government and the root cause of this crisis.

I am glad the WFP stood firm and insisted on bringing in its flour. For starters, the claims that it was GM were false. Secondly, with the rainy season approaching, it is imperative that all the supplies for the next three months arrive early. And thirdly, it would be self-defeating to allow the Sudanese government to make a profit off this refugee crisis. What motivation would the government have to stop the fighting and allow refugees to return home? The war would be a cash cow and we would have no choice but to pay up or lose lives. Instead, we have to make it financially difficult for Sudan to justify supporting the crisis and delaying aid to its own people.