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.
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.
In 2003, a couple of major things happened. 50 Cent blew up and G-Unit took over the music industry, Jay-Z “retired,” and Eminem won an Oscar. It was a big year for Hip Hop. These things we remember vividly, as they were the subject of endless media fanfare (seriously, how many articles did you read about Hova claiming he was done with the rap game?).
Sadly, while you and I were bumpin’ “Dirt Off Your Shoulders” and “In Da Club” that year, a tragedy that has been dubbed the number one humanitarian crisis in the world began – the genocide in Darfur.
Who knew that Hip-Hop had a soul and even a positive side? This particular post: Hip-Hop and Darfur:Part One give a pretty basic overview of the conflict and what has been done. The series continues with an interview with Ankh Amen Ra in part two. Ankh Amen Ra wrote a song called Darfur which can be heard here. Here is the final dialouge from the interview:
DX: What is the most important thing the “average” person can do to help?
AAR: Raise awareness in his or her community – however they feel they can bring more attention to the issue. Talking to people at work, your neighbors, going door-to-door – we have to put this issue on people’s radar, and they have to feel that this is something that needs to stop immediately. Helping raise awareness in your close circle is really the way to make this issue resonate in the hearts and minds of the international community.
I would also like to personally call upon the hip hop community to peacefully assemble as a unified front on the steps of the United Nations and demand that the United Nations Security Council fulfill the promises of UN Resolution 1769, which effectively created the UNAMID Force, an international force consisting of African Union and European Union troops, responsible for establishing security in the war torn region.
In fact, due to the recent attempted coup of the Chadian government by allegedly Sudanese government supported rebels, the situation in that region is deteriorating rapidly as the Chadian prime minister has apparently called for the immediate removal of all Darfur refuges from the his country. Therefore, we must act now!
Part Three is the final (at least for now) installment connecting Hip-Hop and Darfur at HipHopDX and is an interview with Don Cheadle and Adam Sterling. Here is a good excerpt from that interview:
DX: When actors get involve themselves in activism, it puts their careers into a different light. Do you talk to your friends about it, like George [Clooney] or Brad [Pitt]?
DC: I don’t know where it fits, vis a vis. I think a lot of people think doing advocacy work really helps in your career. I think, as you are a human being, and you’re feeing off of being a human being, giving value and meaning to your life, then in all walks of your life it absolutely helps. As far as acting goes, it sometimes cuts against it. It makes it more difficult, as a career. It makes it more difficult in our business, because you get pigeon-holed. It’s just another way to get pigeon-holed and people don’t think you can do a bunch of things and those doors start shutting.
Does that mean that I stop doing it for me? No. Or George? Or others that I’ve spoken to? No. You keep doing it because that’s where your heart lies. It definitely puts everything in perspective. Way more than my acting, it puts my family life into perspective, it puts my children’s relationship to me in perspective–what are you trying to accomplish and achieve as a global citizen in the brief time that you’re here?
What do you want to do? Do you want to be on record between you and your god and your family and your friends as having tried to do something? Or just, you know, to make as much money as you can and get a nice big house and cool ass cars and nice clothes? You can do that too. But I don’t think that’s how you want to measure yourself.
These are well researched and well-written articles, not what I would have expected from a stereotypical Hip-Hop culture. You should go check them out.
After several weeks of good news and progress related to Sudan, the New York Times reported on Sunday that the scorched-earth policy which initially led to the US declaring the violence a genocide has returned.
The attacks by the janjaweed, the fearsome Arab militias that came three weeks ago, accompanied by government bombers and followed by the Sudanese Army, were a return to the tactics that terrorized Darfur in the early, bloodiest stages of the conflict.
Such brutal, three-pronged attacks of this scale — involving close coordination of air power, army troops and Arab militias in areas where rebel troops have been — have rarely been seen in the past few years, when the violence became more episodic and fractured. But they resemble the kinds of campaigns that first captured the world’s attention and prompted the Bush administration to call the violence in Darfur genocide.
This is not a good development as the UN Peacekeeping force still isn’t fully deployed and able to help protect civilians. Women and children are bearing the brunt of this never-ending violence. While it clear that it is a complicated mess there are also clear paths forward to begin the end.
The Sudan government must allow full access to the country by the UN-AU Peacekeeping force, the government must stop bombing villages and coordinating with rebel groups to eliminate entire populations. Rebel groups must step forward and be willing to negotiate peace and not provoke government action. Both groups should focus on true and lasting peace in Sudan and end the skirmishes for power in neighboring Chad.
“When two elephants collide – it is the grass which suffers!” — East African Proverb
Please join me in praying specifically for the people of Kenya. Indeed, two elephants are colliding and many people are suffering. In addition to the news on TV/newspaper/internet we are in direct e-mail contact with the Dr. Don Smith of Kima International School of Theology (KIST). Dr. Smith reports to us as of Thursday, January 03, 2008, the following:
1. The situation nationally is quite tense.
2. The area around KIST has been peaceful.
3. Food & fuel supplies are being disrupted for the entire region – Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, & Congo.
4. KIST has delayed opening school and continues to monitor the situation for further decisions for this semester.
5. Many of the faculty and students are doing the best thing which is to stay where they are for now.
We can pray specifically for the following:
1. For peace & for the violence to stop.
2. For justice & a non-violent resolution to the political chaos.
3. For openness in the political recounting of votes from the election.
4. For safety of all people of all ethnic backgrounds.
5. For long-term reconciliation of people – families, communities, & nations.
Will you join me in praying?
Father, we know that You love the people of Kenya . We join together and pray for all 34 million of them. We pray that they will turn to You, toward one another, and to a non-violent recount of their votes in their election. We do pray for all people of all ethnic backgrounds – knowing You do love each and every one of them. We pray for their protection and safety as well as for a long-term reconciliation among all the people. And we pray that Your people will be the makers of the peace, thus showing to all that they are Your children (Matthew 5:9). We pray in the name of the Prince of Peace – Jesus Christ – Amen.
Thank you for joining me in ‘praying without ceasing’ (2 Thessalonians 5:17),