Here are a few recent news articles about Sudan and Somalia. I don’t want to turn into a spammy blog, just reposting news stories, so these reflect my passions and highlight two major crises in today’s world. These stories are no joke.
The Star-Tribune reports (from an AP wire story) that with Sudan kicking out aid groups over 1 million will lose access to food:
The U.N.-Sudanese assessment team toured Darfur from March 11-19 after the groups were expelled.
About 1.1 million people now dependent on food aid will not receive their rations starting in May if the aid gaps aren’t filled, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Sudan, Ameerah Haq, said on behalf of the team.
She warned that money will run out within four weeks for spare parts and fuel needed to provide drinking water for 850,000 people.
And more than 600,000 people are in danger of not getting materials needed to build shelters before the upcoming rainy season, Haq said.
We allow this to continue in the name of national soverignty – even though international laws have been broken.
According to Gerson, the U.S. and the international community thus “faces a decision”: Do we take a soft-line with Bashir in hopes that aid groups are readmitted, or do we accept the short-term consequences likely to come from increased pressure on Sudan, but that also has the potential to break Bashir’s death grip on the region?
It’s a messy political calculus, any way you shake it— either caving to Bashir’s tactics in Darfur, which hold innocent lives hostage in a no-holds-barred international power struggle, and thus nearly guarantee that this upper-hand will be used again in the future, and to the detriment of millions, or (if you’re President Obama, in particular) taking the risks that come with stepping into the ring.
If one thing is clear, it’s that any attempt to deal with Bashir will not succeed with one foot in, and one out. The full “diplomatic toolkit” must be on the table, including the credible threat of military force. It’s not a simple question of black-and-white moral certitude: Consequences on the ground in Darfur will be grave (though, they already are), and on the international political scene, Obama has to weigh the cost of further angering the Arab world at a time when his agendas in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel/Palestine also hang in the lurch.
It’s not a one-off — it’s a diplomatic package deal. So the decision comes down to: Are the lives of the millions current subjected to the whims of Bashir’s genocidal regime worth not only the political cost of action, but the on-the-ground consequences as well?
“Not every global humanitarian crisis justifies this kind of commitment, or else America would be endlessly overextended. But if genocide does not justify such action, it will never be justified. And we would lose the right to say, ‘Never again.'”
I’d argue that we’ve already lost the right to say “Never Again,” but that does not lift our responsibility to answer the question, “What will we do, right here, right now?”
Somalia is a strongly Muslim country where people are killed for being Christians or even just non-Muslim. The 30 Days website offers some insight into life in Somalia.
God’s forgiveness filled him with hope! Libaan’s relatives heard that Libaan had become a Gal (Somali word for a pagan). Most Somalis can’t imagine that Christians may also be people who fear God, because they assume that Christians live a very worldly lifestyle (including drunkenness and immorality). Returning to see his family Libaan insisted that he not be called a Gal. In his view he was submitted to God, the Almighty. While his family received him well at first, later they rejected him. This experience broke his heart. Somali believers are few in number. They experience loneliness and rejection even from their most beloved family members. Only encouragement and comfort from God helps them to overcome.
According to inter-agency projections5 the most likely scenario given the continuing crisis inside Somalia is that an additional 9,000-10,000 new refugees will continue to arrive in Dadaab each month throughout 2009, even if the border remains closed and despite registration delays and shortage of adequate services. In a worst-case scenario, up to 200,000 people could arrive in a very short time period. In the current situation of extreme congestion none of these new arrivals will be allocated plots or materials to construct their own shelter, and will not have access to adequate sanitation facilities. They are likely to experience delays in obtaining access to food rations and health services. Competition over water resources will increase. Cholera is already present, and a serious outbreak remains a real risk in Dadaab. The ever-increasing overcrowding and poor sanitation and waste disposal facilities, as well as the lack of investment in hygiene promotion, are only exacerbating this risk. In short, a humanitarian emergency will unfold in 2009 in Dadaab unless at least 36,000 of the existing population are immediately served in a decongestion
site near to the existing camps and new camps are constructed to receive the 120,000 new arrivals projected for 2009.
Is it possible to have both peace and justice at the same time? Yes, but not always.
We have some great historical examples of where peace reigned and justice prevailed. Tragically, there are probably more examples of when this didn’t occur.
The most recent and relevant is related to Sudan and the ongoing extermination of the Darfuri people.
What are Peace & Justice?
Peace – For our purposes, peace is a freedom from civil disturbance a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom or a state or period of mutual concord between governments as in a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity. (Webster)
Justice – is the concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, fairness and equity. (Wikipedia)
So in the case of Darfur, peace would be the absence of conflict, improved security and safety around refugee camps, and a return of the refugees to their original homes without a fear of violence. Justice would be the prosecution and imprisonment of individuals involved in illegal activities, such as rape, murder, pillaging, arson, and other similar atrocities.
Advocates around the world have been actively seeking a combination of the two to occur in the Texas sized province of Darfur in Western Sudan. However, at times their actions and advocacy have not always aligned with the best interests of the refugees and aid workers. I am just as guilty as the next advocate in this instance. We have been advocating for peace since 2003 and haven’t had any real success in that regard.
Governments around the world took action… but failed the people of Darfur with their token responses. We send peacekeepers without proper equipment, underfund them, and understaff them – setting them up for failure yet again. What is the purpose of documenting atrocities instead of preventing them? Yes, you must document a crime to prosecute it… but how many must die in the process?
In the past few weeks the International Criminal Court issued an indictment for the President of Sudan. The first time such an indictment has been issued for a sitting head of state. It may also be the first time that it is clearly a head of state allowing crimes against humanity and war crimes to occur. Read more at the ICC’s Darfur Page.
This indictment was a clear step toward justice and holding an individual accountable for the actions they knowingly allowed to occur. The debate in many circles is… was that a wise move?
I don’t know claim to know everything but there definitely are some problems related to this. Everyone knew that after the indictment all the humanitarian aid workers would be either kicked out or harrased and that came to pass. Everyone also knew that the indictment is almost impossible to enforce – Sudan and many of its closest allies are not signators (nor is the US) on the charter of the ICC. This means that we and they have no responsibility to act on its warrants. The president is fairly safe to travel around within those countries without risking arrest. It is almost impossible to arrest him in Sudan because he has popular support within the capital and much of north Sudan.
So why go after justice knowing that it will be hard to serve and create everything but peace? I agree it should give Darfuri people hope that ultimately justice will be served and their death and suffering will be vindicated. I can’t imagine that will mean much as they continue to suffer each day.
Jim Wallis gives a clear account of what has happened since the ICC indictment:
Over the past few weeks, 13 international humanitarian organizations have been expelled from Sudan at the dictate of Omar al-Bashir, president of Sudan. These actions came soon after the International Criminal Court handed down an indictment of al-Bashir and issued a warrant for his arrest for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Darfur. As a result, 1.1 million Darfuris are without food, 1.5 million without health care, and more than 1 million without access to clean drinking water. If there was any doubt as to whether or not he was truly acting in the best interest of his people, his use of food and water as weapons of war show that he just does not care about the people of Darfur.
With the expulsion of these humanitarian organizations, al-Bashir has shown that he has no interest in the well-being of the people of Darfur or in bringing piece. These actions show that once again there comes a time when a political leader has so violated standards of international law and morality that he should no longer be treated as a sovereign, even in his own country, but as a criminal. Actions like this show that he should no longer be president, but prosecuted and brought to justice like the international fugitive of the law he now is. If he was serious about peace and progress, the first thing he should do is welcome the aid organizations back into his country, and without that he has ensured that this warrant will be pursued.
There is no doubt that if we continue to watch there will be neither peace nor justice. We must act for both. Hoping and praying that somewhere along the way somebody with power will stand up and say ENOUGH and take immediate action that will end the pain and suffering of millions of innocent children, women, and men.
Why was Jonah willing to save the boat full of pagans, but not go to Ninevah?
That was a tangental question David threw out during last week’s sermon. He didn’t want to dig into it since it was really related to the overarching topic. But was still a good point to ponder…
I e-mailed him a response over the weekend:
Something similar has been on my mind lately… especially regarding things like Darfur, Somalia, HIV/AIDS…
I think Jonah didn’t want to save those people over there, you know those foreigners. Why would God want us to be uncomfortable to benefit someone besides ourselves? Why should we care about Africa when we have problems here…
But once those foreigners became part of his life. We don’t know for sure who was on the ship but I imagine that at least one of the sailors was a Nineveh-ite. They had some shared experiences playing poker, dropping back some rum, you know hanging out. Their relationships probably became stronger as the storm picked up. Adversity tends to bring people together.
When Jonah and the sailors figured out what was happening he faced a few choices, do nothing and hope everyone lives, be pragmatic and realize that people are going to die, take a risk and jump overboard, get thrown overboard. Jonah must have been a pretty decent fellow since God wanted him to prophesy on His behalf, so it seems Jonah was willing to do whatever it took to help is new buddies. Plus if he died, he still wouldn’t preach to Nineveh!
I think once we’ve experienced Africa or know someone with HIV, it becomes real and personal. You are more willing to act and take risks to help them.
Does that make sense? What do you think??
I would definitely, be interested in hearing your thoughts and reactions to that question in the comments.
The Sudanese Government in the midst of committing genocide in their Western Province of Darfur had this to say about the recent Russian incursion into Georgia:
August 15, 2008 (KHARTOUM) –The Sudanese National Assembly lent its support Moscow in its clash with Georgia over the border region of South Ossetia.
The Sudanese legislative body described the Russian response as “legitimate” and that Moscow had “the right to defend its citizens”.
Sudan also condemned the “crimes committed by Georgian forces against innocent citizens”.
“The genocide was committed in its worst forms and did not spare even the elders or children or sick or women” the foreign relations committee said in a statement.
Sudan and Russia enjoy good relations particularly in terms of military cooperation. Moscow along with Beijing blocked tough UN Security Council (UNSC) measures against Khartoum over the Darfur conflict.
I assume the key word in this statement is “innocent” as I don’t think the Sudanese government would say any Darfuri is innocent – just my thought.
China has begun shifting its position on Darfur, stepping outside its diplomatic comfort zone to quietly push Sudan to accept the world’s largest peacekeeping force, diplomats and analysts say.
It has also acted publicly, sending engineers to help peacekeepers in Darfur and appointing a special envoy to the region who has toured refugee camps and pressed the Sudanese government to change its policies.
Few analysts expect China to walk away from its business ties to Sudan, but its willingness to take up the issue is a rare venture into something China swears it never does — meddle in the internal affairs of its trading partners.
This is a very good step for China. I won’t say it is enough and time will tell if it is mere lipservice, but baby steps are good!
I found this part of the article very interesting:
“Coming to some sort of agreement with the United States is the Holy Grail of Sudanese politics,” said a senior Western diplomat in Khartoum, who was not authorized to speak publicly. “No one has been able to deliver it.”
This holds true though Sudan is awash in investments from Asia and the gulf that would, in theory, allow the oil-rich but development-poor country to prosper more broadly than it has despite American opprobrium.
American approval and acceptance would transform Sudan in a way the billions of dollars from China, India, Malaysia, Iran and the gulf have been unable to: by opening the spigots of Western development aid and with it a deal to reduce its nearly $30 billion in external debt, along with technical assistance to manage the tide of money rushing in.
Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has been very hesitant to take much action, despite having such a large role in ending the civil war between North and South.
It is definitely a mixed bag of how to end the terrible genocide, but it is pretty clear that China needs to be a major role in the solution as does the United States.