Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Do the Math

There was a glimmer of hope coming from the news about the tragedy in Darfur today. According to UPI, a group of 111 newly-trained Chadian soldiers have begun a deployment to eastern Chad as part of a U.N. mission to improve security in the region. They will join forces with another 320 soldiers who are already trained and in the area. This is good news. Properly-trained security forces are a key element in restoring peace to a region embroiled in war. They can protect the women going into the fields to collect firewood. They can bring order to the chaotic food lines. They can fight off rebel attacks aimed at undermining whatever fragile fragments of society remain intact. This all seems very hopeful, until you do the math.

This group of 431 soldiers (eventually the number is supposed to rise to 850) is expected to bring security and safety to more than 400,000 refugees and others running for their lives in an area the size of Texas. So if you do the math, that means each soldier is roughly responsible for watching out for the welfare of about 950 men, women and children. Wow. How can we possibly expect these security force members to be successful when they have such odds stacked against them, when the ratio is so out of whack?

I understand that even baby steps are good if they are in the right direction. Deploying 431 troops is a baby step - and we must do more. One of the way you can help is by contributing to organizations, like GI-Net, that purchase radios and other "non-lethal" materials for peace keepers. Things like radios help increase the effectiveness of the troops and reduce the incredible odds they face.

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