What We Can Do About Darfur

The horrors in Darfur, a region in western Sudan, are not going away. In fact, they’re spreading. A front-page article in Tuesday’s New York Times reported that the crisis has swelled across Sudan’s western border into Chad, a land-locked nation smack in the center of Africa with a long history of tension with its Sudanese neighbors. Already, hundreds have been killed and about 20,000 inhabitants of Chad have been displaced by Sudanese gunmen, who have ravaged scores of civilian villages. This, more than two years since the United States Congress passed a resolution that called the events in Darfur “genocide.”

Thus far, limited military action has been taken to stop the violence. About 7,000 African Union troops have been given the task of quelling the genocide, but the A.U. forces are under-funded and clearly not in control of the situation, as evidenced by the enduring brutality.

Meanwhile, global powers are not exactly getting in line to lend a hand. The members of the U.N. Security Council, the United States included, are hamstrung with other military endeavors, reluctant to send troops on missions that do not concern their own national security, or afraid of interfering with trade or resources obtained in the region. While the Bush administration has recently called for increased funding, a doubling of international troops and a greater role for NATO in the region, more can be done, such as providing air support and imposing increased economic sanctions against Sudan.

The genocide in Darfur is an ongoing slaughter of non-Arab peoples by the Janjaweed, a government-supported militia consisting mostly of Arab tribesmen. It has claimed more than 400,000 lives, attributed to the brutal Janjaweed raids, disease and starvation. The conflict has converted another 2.5 million people– – 2.5 million – from ordinary Sudanese citizens into wandering refugees.

The situation may seem hopeless, but there are ways to help, even in Hamilton, NY. March is Colgate’s Genocide Awareness Month, a concerted effort on the part of a variety of campus organizations to raise awareness about Darfur’s ethnic cleansing and to encourage students to do something about it.

On Monday, there will be a letter writing “power hour” in the COOP (booze not included), during which students will be asked to write to President Bush, our Congressmen and women, and friends and family to voice our indignation about the mostly passive global stance towards the genocide. Thursday is National Call-In Day, also taking place in the COOP, affording students the opportunity to dial up our congressional representatives and demand increased United States support for the people of Darfur. Later in the month, Paul Rusesabagina, the real-life hero made famous by the movie Hotel Rwanda, will tell his story in Memorial Chapel.

Hopefully when Rusesabagina comes to Hamilton, we will be able to report that we have made great strides in doing what we can to fight Darfur’s genocide from our nook in Central New York. We at The Maroon-News urge the Colgate community to write letters, make calls and visit genocideintervention.net in order to make Genocide Awareness Month a stepping stone towards greater social activism on campus, particularly concerning the unspeakable violence in the Sudan.