I’ve been searching and searching. Yes, I found enough via U.N. news releases to give you the details below, but first I wanted to tell you what the United States and President Bush are doing to respond to this new, grave crisis in Darfur. It should be easy for me to find since I subscribe — via RSS feed — to all of the daily U.S. State Dept. briefings and releases. But I’ve found nothing.
Nothing, even though one of my personal heroes, Jan Egeland, head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, says: “My warning is the following: If it continues to escalate, if it continues to be so dangerous on humanitarian work, we may not be able to sustain our operation for 2.5 million people requiring lifesaving assistance.”
The name of the only newspaper in which I could find Egeland’s quote? New Orlean’s Times-Picayune.
On Tuesday, Juan Mendez, the U.N.’s envoy for prevention of genocide — genocide! — warned the world that “violence is increasing” in Darfur and he criticized the “Sudanese national courts for doing little to try suspects accused of atrocities.”
The day after — Wednesday — Pres. Bush issued a clearly pro forma written statement that congratulates the Sudanese government, reports VOA, for naming 29 cabinet members and neglects to mention the new violence and aid crisis.
What exactly did Bush write to Sudan yesterday? “All Sudanese can be proud of this significant progress, because it demonstrates the parties’ continued commitment to a common vision of a unified, democratic, prosperous, and peaceful Sudan.” A peaceful Sudan, my ass. Bush is an ignorant criminal. Does Bush even know the true condition of the Sudanese government, or about the recent violence?
The facts: Today, the United Nations refugee agency “voiced ‘grave concern’ over an ‘unprecedented attack’, purportedly by armed Arab men, on a camp for thousands of internally displaced persons in western Sudan’s Darfur region that is reported to have left 29 people dead and another 10 seriously wounded.”
“As long as this insecurity continues, the international community cannot provide the assistance that is so desperately needed by hundreds of thousands of people,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres of Darfur, where fighting between the government, allied militias and rebels has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than 2 million since early 2003.”
The conflict has spread to Chad:
A soldier from the National Army of Chad patrols the wadi Tine, the empty bed of seasonal river that runs between Chad and Sudan in Tine, in 2004. The bloody conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region spread across the border to Chad this week when some 75 people, mostly civilians, were killed in an attack on a village by the Sudanese ethnic Arab militia known as the Janjaweed, authorities and witnesses said.(Yahoo News – AFP/File/Marco Longari)
One more thing: These refugees and citizens of these countries depend on cereal for sustenance. Yet, “[w]orld cereal production in 2005 is forecast at 1,984 million tonnes, slightly down since the previous forecast and 3.4 per cent less than 2004’s record output, according to the latest United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report issued today.
Why does this matter so much? From yet another U.N. release today: “Some 30.5 million people in 24 countries in sub-Saharan Africa [including Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe] are facing food emergencies caused by problems ranging from war to bad weather to economic crisis, with 12 million people in southern Africa needing immediate aid after a poor cereal harvest, according to a United Nations report issued today.”
When I hear those snide snipers in Congress blast the U.N., I know that they have no comprehension of the vast, unending, seemingly insurmountable challenges that the U.N. tries to address every day. It’s been an education to sign up for the daily news releases. I recommend it. Particularly to Sen. Norm Coleman.