Here is an inconvenient fact about Africa: our genocides tend to happen away from television cameras. Almost 1m people were killed in Rwanda in 1994; 2m died in southern Sudan in the past two decades; and 4m people in the Democratic Republic of Congo have died since 1997. The totals are staggering, and hardly a column inch or minute of airtime have marked them.
On the 10th anniversary of Rwanda there was talk of never again allowing innocent civilians to be butchered with impunity. But even as the politicians were deploring the inaction of the international community, another African genocide was under way.
In our world of 24-hour news cycles, people could be forgiven for thinking Darfur did not exist. The Sudanese government’s policy of making it hard for the media and humanitarian groups to get access to its remote western region has paid off.
In Darfur 2m people have been ethnically cleansed since 2003, women and girls are systematically raped and tortured daily, there is cholera in the refugee camps and the violence is spilling into next door Chad, and all without the attention, or response, it deserves.
The World Food Programme warns it cannot reach half the people in Darfur who need help, and those it can feed are on rations below the daily minimum requirement. The Sudanese armed forces and their proxies, the Janjaweed militias, have stepped up their attacks on civilians, and aid workers are being killed despite a recently signed peace deal.
This summer, after 30 days of war between Israel and Hezbollah, and a thousand dead, the international community rightly intervened and dispatched UN peacekeepers. After 3� years, and an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 dead in Darfur, it is still unclear if a United Nations force will be sent. We Africans conclude that double standards apply to our continent.
Today is the international day of action for Darfur. Around the world from Cape Town to London, Moscow to New York, concerned citizens are asking why the UN security council’s resolutions on Darfur have yet to be enforced. We are still waiting for a no-fly zone, targeted sanctions against the architects of the genocide, and referrals to the International War Crimes Tribunal. No wonder the Khartoum regime denies UN peacekeepers access to Darfur....