Monday, July 21, 2008

Spiraling downward

The steady diet of bad news and impotent peace efforts have continued to flow from the land that I love even while I’ve taken a brief absence from writing. Just because my words have been few and far between doesn’t mean my mind has left Darfur or the men, women and children who are struggling to avoid dying in the dust.

I wish I was being melodramatic – but I’m not. And the situation for millions of families just got grimer with this news:

“Humanitarian organizations Oxfam and Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) have suspended their operations in Kerfi, Eastern Chad, following rising insecurity in the area. The two NGOs say gunmen have increasingly attacked their staff and compounds, the latest incident being a night attack on July 9, when six gunmen shot at and tried to burn a house where Oxfam staffers were hiding. And MSF reported that dozens of local young men beat up their staff members and patients on July 8. The two organizations undertake humanitarian work that supports over 10,000 displaced people living around the town of Kerfi.”

I sit up and take notice when the brutal actions of angry thugs are causing MSF (one of the most fearless humanitarian groups in the world) to leave their mission. 10,000 lives in danger due to the actions of six gunmen. This is the reality on the ground.

The politics are getting heated up more than usual with the impending indictment of Sudan’s president by the International Criminal Court for charges of crimes against humanity. While the government-forced rallies in the Sudanese capital have slowed down, the calls from other governments to avoid the indictment have increased. The African Union has weighed in, asking the ICC to drop the indictments.

The question I have for you is this: What message does it send Sudan’s president if the African Union (his peers) are standing by his side and urging the ICC to drop the case? Is this a good thing because it means they are united and focused on diplomacy and peace, or a bad thing because it gives credibility to a genocidal leader?

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