By Nick Cabrejos – Government Relations and Outreach Intern
The expulsion of humanitarian aid from Darfur by the Sudanese government is becoming more and more detrimental for Darfuri society’s survival. While suffering has gone far too long and the death toll has climbed everyday the Sudanese government claims that there is no longer a crisis in Darfur, yet the people are constantly living in fear as women and children are being killed and raped every day. To make matters worse, recent weather has introduced harsh rains and floods into the already devastated region of South Darfur. Over 700 houses have collapsed and about 500 houses have been partly destroyed. In the midst of all of these disasters one has to ask, why are the Darfuri people being blocked off from humanitarian aid?
When the UN adopted the international human rights and humanitarian laws it was made clear that in the face of any disaster, man-made or natural, the vulnerable would be fully entitled to live-saving aid assistance. Unfortunately this is not the case in Darfur where the international community has allowed its own laws to be violated by a corrupt dictator. Humanitarian aid has been pushed away by the Sudanese government since 2009 when President Omar al-Bashir was charged with genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Al-Bashir expelled 16 humanitarian organizations which were providing about 75% of the total aid assistance. This left over 1 million Darfuris without proper amounts of food, drinking water, and health-care. President al-Bashir claimed that the government would “fill the gaps left by the NGOs.” While this statement might be believed by some outsiders, the truth is that the Sudanese government has no intention of providing the needed humanitarian assistance to those who he has systematically singled out for killing and this is no secret to the locals. Instead of holding al-Bashir accountable and pressing for more humanitarian access, the International community allowed al-bashir to negotiate the urgently needed aid-assistance while people were left to die everyday.
In spite of the magnitude of the long-standing crisis in Darfur, its is not being reported much by media around the world recently.. Lack of media coverage in this area has been due to systematic isolation of the region, threats towards national journalists, and the blockade of external reporters in Darfur. These obstacles are now accompanied by recent global events taking the mainstream spotlight. For Example: attacks by ISIS, the American Presidential Elections, and even Pokémon Go are being reported on virtually every media source constantly. How is it possible that a catastrophe like the situation in Darfur has continued to take place for 13 years and the world continues to remain silent. It is up to us as individuals to keep ourselves informed and focused on these issues. We cannot allow ourselves to become distracted by the endless amount of tabloid media that seems to come at us from all directions.
As grim as the situation in Darfur is, ultimately it will be the passionate individuals who will create the much needed change. Whether it is through word of mouth, blogs, or the ever-evolving social media apps, this community of individuals will grow to become a force to be reckoned with. It is imperative that we use all of the advantageous tools at hand appropriately to serve the good causes. If our leaders fail, we should step up to the plate and hold them accountable. With passion and creativity we will be able to make an impact, do you see yourself making a difference?