Problems in Darfur: Solutions are not really solutions

Donnella Collison

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Darfur, meaning house of the Fur, is a region in western Sudan that is three- quarters the size of Texas. There have been many years of rising tensions between the black and Arab groups over land and grazing right, but never to this extent.

This region is the scene of a bloody battle since 2004, what some call genocide and others call ethnic cleansing, between rebel groups and the Arab militia group Janjaweed. The government of Sudan is accused of trying to cleanse Darfur of its black population and of providing Janjaweed with weapons. Though it denies these claims, it admits to mobilizing “self-defense militias” in response to rebel attacks. The allegedly government-supported Janjaweed were accused of committing major human rights violations, including mass killings, lootings and rape against the black people of Darfur.

When I first learned of what is going on in Darfur, I cried. I cried because I felt that the people of Darfur and their anguish being ignored by the international community, including the media, U.N. and the U.S. I imagined that somewhere, a woman my age was being raped and forced to commit unspeakable acts against her family and friends. Then I became enraged. Like many people, I do not support the war in Iraq. And although I am not an American citizen, my tax dollars would be used to fund a war that I had no say in. George Bush really doesn’t care about black people in Darfur. He cares about the oil, power and revenge he stands to gain if the Iraq war is ever resolved. The entire west owes so much of its wealth and prosperity to Africa because of the toil African slaves had to go through. They were plucked from their homes and are directly responsible for the Industrial Revolution in Western Europe and prosperity in America that makes them world powers today. I then proceeded to curse the heads of state of the U. N., and their mothers, United States, her policies, the policy-makers and their mothers; all in my own ignorance and hypocrisy. I took no time to closely research or even google the world powers’ reaction to Sudan. If I had done so earlier, less of my ignorance would have been spread to others. The U.S. has continued to condemn violence in Darfur and has claimed to have contributed more than $220 million in aid since 2004. The U.S. also claims to have led actions to provide a larger peacekeeping force than can currently be provided by the Africa Union. “The United States is committed to ending the violence and providing assistance to the suffering people of Darfur, as well as ensuring the peaceful democratic transformation throughout Sudan,” stated a press release of the U.S. policy on Darfur. The U.N. has also made some valiant steps to resolving the issue. Secretary General Kofi Annan recently issued a blunt ultimatum to the Sudanese government saying that they should act now and allow peacekeeping troops to enter Sudan or bear the responsibility for the deaths and suffering of millions of people.

To date, the Sudanese government has prevented peacekeeping troops from entering Sudan claiming that the U.N.’s plans are part of a “conspiracy for confiscating the country’s sovereignty.” These claims are understandable since the U.S. has a history of “liberating” countries from “undemocratic control” and in turn stripping the country of everything its’ worth. This excuse does not apply to Sudan since it is the Sudanese government that is responsible the current civil war. The latest Darfur Peace Agreement that was signed in May where the government’s part was to disarm Janjaweed. To date, there is no evidence that any attempts have been made to disarm this rogue militia group.

At this point, any type of invasion to curb the infighting will prove disastrous. Any more fighting with additional parties involved will cause more suffering for those already suffering. The only way to save the people of Darfur is to get the different groups to come to some sort of agreement over the land and governorship, which is a difficult feat as proven by the failure of the Darfur Peace Agreement. What should be done about Darfur?

The problem is so complex that the solution will be as complex. Forcibly ousting the current government, though appealing, is most unwise. A takeover of the government by the U.S. or U.N. could make a situation worse than Iraq, which is quite unimaginable. Perhaps what the government needs is a consolidated outcry from other black communities and governments to stop the fighting and adhere to future peace agreements. More visits to Sudan and input from respected people of color like Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Kofi Annan independent of the U.N. Also visits from hip-hop artists like Jay-Z, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, and 50-cent could possibly persuade our Sudanese comrades to lay down their weapons and work hard towards maintaining peace.

Speaking as a black woman, I can say that we – as people – have always had a distrust in governing bodies whose power lays in the hands of wealthy, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, males. What are their intentions for wanting to help Africans? What do they stand to gain?

I was one of those people who believed that this problem would only be solved with the help of the U.N. and U.S. However, they have been involved since the beginning of the fighting and still are unable to resolve it. The money the U.N. and U.S. is providing will still be needed to provide food and shelter for the victims and those displaced by the conflict. Relax boys; you, U.N. and U.S., will still receive some credit after Sudan has resolved her problems.

These future agreements should include a plan where the black Sudanese are given power over themselves, while retaining their land and rightful possessions. The same goes for the Arab tribes. As is evident in other countries, like Chad and Uganda, that who are experiencing similar problems, and centuries of proof, these two groups simply cannot exist peacefully together.

Separate but equal, in the purest sense of the term, ignoring the negative connotations relating the American Civil Rights Movement – might just work!