Monday, April 16, 2007

A differing view on Darfur... as the conflict spreads

An op-ed piece in yesterday's Los Angeles Times co-written by the secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders opines that sending foreign troops into Darfur, the genocide- and war-ravaged region of western Sudan, would cost lives rather than save them.

The authors argue that contrary to the simplistic dichotomy portrayed in the western media, the situation on the ground is much more complex. Certainly the Sudanese regime and its proxies have decided to exterminate Darfur's black population and is carrying out genocide with the help of the Riders of the Apocalypse, the infamous janjaweed militia, the piece notes.

But it also points out that rebel groups are increasingly targetting not the genocidal Janjaweed, but humanitarian aid organizations.

For example, in Gereida, in South Darfur, more than 100,000 displaced people have been cut off from humanitarian aid since mid-December after a rebel attack on relief groups that still dare not return.

But far from arguing that Darfur, which is bigger than Iraq, be abandoned, the authors call for an approach which they argue is both more likely to happen and more likely to help.

A united international community needs to pressure the Sudanese government and the rebels into a meaningful peace process — and if necessary, publicly challenge China to veto a U.N. sanctions resolution against any intransigent parties. In the absence of a peace agreement to monitor, what right do we have to demand that anyone — be they our children or U.N. blue helmets from the Third World — go and die in Darfur?

And while diplomatic efforts drag on at a snail's pace, South Africa's Daily Mail and Guardian has a piece on how the conflict has spread into neighboring Chad.

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