Thursday, August 2, 2007

The UN is coming to Darfur

The UN is coming to Darfur en masse. Over 26,000 peacekeeping soldiers and observers.

Strange - that would seem to be enormous news. In the past two days I've had three meetings with UN organizations, a few others with NGOs, and no one has mentioned the UN resolution and the peace keeping soldiers that are supposed to arrive here by October. Why?

Here is what I posted on another site:

Every morning I read about the supposed violence that plagues this area, but much of what the media says is exaggerated. IDPs continue to arrive in the camps, coordinated attacks by both janjaweed and government forces against villages are happening in remote areas, and humanitarian workers are being targeted by carjackers (though no one's person has been targeted recently). This place is the size of France, though, and many areas have been calm for quite some time.

I cannot believe that it is the "greatest humanitarian disaster the world faces today," as Gordon Brown and other diplomats repeat. Take into consideration that all relevant humanitarian indicators are higher in Darfur than they were before the violence began: maternal health and nutrition is better, infant mortality is down, and most areas have much better access to clean water and nearby health care. This is happening due to the massive influx of aid that is being concentrated on Darfur - to the detriment of other more important areas nearby.

Despite the recent peace in South Sudan, life expectancy is much lower than it is in Darfur. The South recently ended a 22-year long civil war with the North that killed 2 million people and a left in its wake a lost generation to rebuild a destroyed region the size of Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, and Rwanda combined. It is becoming more and more likely that the peace with the North will be broken, as Khartoum has repeatedly failed to implement its side of the CPA, the agreement that ended the war two years ago.

Why is the Government of Sudan allowing UN peacekeepers in the first place? Are they encouraging the world to focus on Darfur so that they can sabotage peace with the South and prevent ultimate secession (and the loss of the cherished oil fields)?


Julie Flint, an independent journalist and the co-author of "Darfur: A Short History of a Long War," has the most lucid understanding of Darfur that I have found. Her most recent article.