Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The UN in Darfur: Too Little, Too Late

The International Crisis Group has called on the US to use its month-long stint as the president of the UN Security Council to press for a UN force to replace the African Union peacekeepers in Darfur. Ah is such an excellent time for the UN to step in. While it is difficult to estimate how many people have died in Darfur so far, the US Department of State estimates that as of April of 2005 70,000 people had died due to the ethnic genocide being waged by the Islamic Arab north against the black Christians, animists, and tribalists in the south. [Ed: As pointed out in the comments, the Sudanese in Darfur are mostly, although not all, Muslim, so the conflict is not one of Islam against Christians. It is, however, Arab versus black. Thanks for the note, anonymous.] Many other analysts believe that the true count could be much higher -- as much as 4-5 times greater -- with high estimates ranging around 400,000 deaths. This does not include the 2,000,000 people estimated to have fled their homes. (Sorry the data is so old...if anyone knows of more recent numbers, please let me know.)

So yes, now is the time to get the UN involved. Where was it for the past few years, while tens if not hundreds of thousands of people were being killed, raped, forced from their homes, and otherwise brutalised? Placing the hopes of a people for justice and salvation in the UN, or the AU for that matter, is akin to believing in the Tooth Fairy. Unfortunately, while belief in the Tooth Fairy might net a kid a buck or so, trusting the UN usually produces indifference to, if not the outright abetting of (as in Srebrenica), genocide.

UPDATE: Case in point, the money quote from the ICG statement: While the AU troops have done much to provide security in Darfur they have been unable to protect civilians throughout the region. The AU forces have lacked manpower and resources and the Sudanese government has not cooperated with their mission. I hope this leaves you as dumb-struck as I am. If the AU has been unable to protect civilians, lacks manspower and resources, and has not had cooperation from the Sudanese government, how can it be claimed that "AU troops have done much to provide security"?

UPDATE, PART 2: The US has, in fact, called for the UN to deploy troops into Darfur. The article cited mentions the 2 million displaced persons, but does not mention numbers of dead or raped. It also notes that if the African Union and Khartoum do not agree to allow the UN to replace the AU troops, China will likely not consent to any operation (China gets a large amount of oil from Sudan and has long been a political protector of the regime). And, continuing the look at money quotes exemplifying the inability of the UN to deal with these kind of problems (note the use of my chosen title for the original blog post in the quote from Pronk):

"Looking back at three years of killings and (ethnic) cleansing in Darfur, we must admit that our peace strategy so far has failed," Jan Pronk, the top U.N. envoy in Khartoum, said in mid-January. "All we did was picking up the pieces and muddling through, doing too little too late," he told the Security Council.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Darfur is not Southern Sudan.

The 21-year civil war between the Muslim government in Khartoum and the Christian/animist people in the South was a separate conflict, and few people see it as having been a genocide (though it was certainly a catastrophic, murderous civil war).

The residents of Darfur are predominantly Muslim, like the members of the Khartoum government. The difference is that those in Khartoum are seen as "Arab" and those in Darfur are seen as "black." This doesn't have to do so much with skin color, and little to do with ethnic heritage, as it does with lifestyle. Those who are "Arab" are nomadic; those who are "black" are sedentary farmers.

Anyway, the main point is that this is not a Muslims vs. Christians conflict.