Last Friday, as the UN made its decision regarding UNAMID’s funding, the world was once again reminded of the need for UNAMID, despite its past failures.
In a wicked and ironic twist, last Friday, the 30th of June 2017, a group of women were raped. While this type of incident is, sadly, very familiar to many in Darfur, it is the following events which showed the determined brutality of the Sudanese armed forces.
The incident took place in Golo, Central Darfur, near Jebel Marra. There was a group of women gathering water when army soldier appeared and raped them. Those near the scene tried to aid the women by beating them with sticks. One of the soldiers was killed, and many others were wounded. After this, the soldiers began to attack people with a bombardment of missiles and bullets. The violence did not stop there; soldiers then proceeded to raid houses and shops and robbed people of their belongings. Witnesses report that soldiers forced several donkey cart owners to transport the stolen goods back to the military garrison of Golo.
As of now, there are still many people who are not able to return home. They are living in caves and valleys because they have nowhere else to go. Those involved in the Golo attack are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, but the possibility of receiving aid is beginning to look more and more unlikely.
This type of incident serves us to remind us about the need for accountability and transparency. When an attack this brutal occurs, we need to ensure that nothing like it happens again. However, as this was happening; as a group of women was being raped and innocent civilians saw their homes torn apart; the international community decided to let that be the status quo.
The fact that these types of attacks are a reality for thousands of Darfuris reflects a fundamental failure on international community’s part. With our silence, we have let it happen. History is supposed to teach us to learn from our mistakes and to do better; to right the wrongs of those who came before us. The case of Darfur is not an exception. Those who came before us failed, and it is our duty to change the status quo. It is our jobs as citizens to speak up and hold our leaders accountable.
Over the years, Darfur has seemed to disappear from the public’s conscious. Reports from mainstream news sources regarding Darfur stopped, after all the situation in Darfur was not new anymore, it became a continuous state, the violence never stopped. Moreover, the violence has not stopped. Every day there are new reports of violent attacks, people killed, women and girls raped, farmers abducted, and the list goes on.
While we were not the one committing these acts, we were bystanders in the world’s most successful genocide. The lack of news coverage, the lack of public outrage, it all contributed to the suffering of thousands of innocents. Our silence killed, we should be reminded of that.
Moreover, as the UN announced its decision regarding UNAMID’s funding, we should be reminded of our past mistakes, and not just in the case of Darfur. We should remind ourselves of Cambodia and Rwanda and of all the other genocides which have occurred as a result of our silence. Despite what the past as taught us, the UN refuses to learn and instead keeps making the same mistakes.
With the UN’s decision to cut back on peacekeeping operations what happened in Golo is likely to occur again; in fact, it is likely that these types of attacks will occur more frequently. The UN needs to realize that they have played into the hands of an indicted war-criminal; the UN has bought al-Bashir’s narrative, one promoting a peaceful and stable Darfur, and that narrative does not have an ounce of truth to it. The Golo attack is a testimony to the fact that government-sponsored violence is a reality in Darfur which contradicting the fictional narrative that states that the situation in Darfur has improved.
The fact of the matter is that there are still thousands of people in Darfur who need some humanitarian assistance, and for them, the withdrawal of peacekeepers is practically a death sentence. The UN should be made aware of this fact. They should also look back to the chatter upon which their organization was created and realize that the values which were enshrined in their founding have become nothing more than words on a piece of paper.