Commentary: Action needed from everywhere for Darfur

As many of you may have heard, there is a genocide occurring in Darfur right now. It began in 2003, when an armed opposition group called the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) took up arms against the government because of the lack of government protection for their people. It is believed the government of Sudan responded by supporting Arab militias known as the Janjaweed (gunmen on horseback), who attacked villages, destroyed water sources, stole livestock and killed and raped villagers, according to darfurinformation.com.

The website also estimates that at least 200,000 people have been killed and millions have been displaced from their homes during the fighting between these groups.

An African Union (AU) peacekeeping force is there now, but is ineffective and not authorized to do much but observe the violence. The U.N. has recently authorized a 20,000 member peace force with the authority to stop the violence, but Sudan refuses to allow a UN force into the country. The fact that much has been said but basically nothing has been done so far is unacceptable. Are we, as a country, going to allow yet another genocide to continue without acting? Are we going to continue condemning it but not actually do anything to stop it?

The excuses for not acting often seem to reflect that the situation is very complicated politically, which is true. But it’s very simple when you think of it in terms of the people involved. It’s a genocide. Human beings being raped and murdered and made to live in fear. It’s wrong no matter what the situation. The U.N. force should be put into action now, before even more people are forced to suffer.

The only way this will happen is if people everywhere make our voices heard and call for action now. So if you agree with me and want to do something to help, here’s what you can do: First, call or write your senators, representatives, the President, the UN, or anyone else involved.

Tell them you’re outraged that nothing has been done yet and you want the UN force in Darfur now. Second, spread the word and raise awareness by telling friends, family and coworkers. Write an editorial for your hometown newspaper. Your actions can really have an effect on the situation; in fact they may be the only real hope of ending this before it’s too late.

If you’d like to learn more about the situation, what you can do to help or about the many different groups campaigning for this cause, please feel free to email me at [email protected]

– Andy Pickering is a junior physics major.

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