As much as I'd like to give a positive update on the situation in Darfur, the reality is that the situation has deteriorated. And Russian news agency Pravda recently gave one of the best commentaries on the situation available:
"The sheer scale of the problem is witnessed by the numbers of those affected: two and a half million people displaced and tens of thousands shot dead, burnt alive, raped or hacked to pieces. The story was true to its two-week slot in the media, complete with front-page photographs of starving children and the TV images showing mothers cradling skeletal babies. The world grunted, said "How sad", shrugged its shoulders and moved on, to the start of the soccer season, the build-up to FIFA 2006 and the atrocities in Iraq. Yet Darfur never went away. Today, the 11,000 humanitarian aid workers in the region are unable to fulfill their duties because of attacks on a daily basis. They are being robbed, they are being attacked, they are being threatened and they are being abducted. Civilians are being raped and killed. Every day. Jan Egeland, Under-Secretary-General of the UNO for Humanitarian Affairs, declared on Thursday in Geneva that the 5,000 troops supplied by the African Union are not enough, and that three times this number is required to stop the violence."
From CBC News:
"The United Nations has ordered all non-essential staff out of Sudan's West Darfur region because of increasing violence aimed at aid workers and continuing clashes between government forces and rebels. Spokesperson Radhia Achouri said only core staff will remain at the UN's local headquarters in West Darfur. Almost 11,000 aid workers are in the troubled region of Sudan, trying to deliver relief supplies to hundreds of thousands of displaced and hungry people."
Pulling out the staff obviously means there are less people to distribute food and medical supplies. meanwhile the Sudan Tribune reports that anarchy is taking hold:
"Darfur has descended into total anarchy with many areas now no go areas even for the people of Darfur themselves. In Tawilah, thousands of displaced people have been put on flight again and over 2,500 are now spending their nights in makeshift camps, as a result of violent attacks. In Tina, about 40 African Mission in Sudan (AMIS) forces were abducted, although most of them have been set free and in southern Darfur at least 34 displaced persons were massacred in their camp at Aro Sharow and in the village of Gosmeina."
The Sudan Tribune takes the view that groups responsible for the anarchy and murders must be given a place at the negotiating table. I'm not so sure I agree. What Darfur really needs is an international commitment so that those who are genuinely working for peace can begin to make progress, the people of Darfur can be protected, and those giving aid can do so unhindered and unthreatened. The simple fact is that there are not enough security forces to protect the people of Darfur and the aid workers.
And here I am, treading carefully because I don't want to guilt trip anyone or have people think I'm being too heavy. I'm not saying I want to guilt trip you - I just noticed something about my priorities.
Cross-posted at Allthings2all