Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Genocide in plain sight
"This is a tsunami. This is no small thing. This is an emergency."

Those are the words of Jan Egeland, the United Nation's undersecretary for humanitarian affairs. He is referring to the situation in Darfur, a dry, desolate, swathe of land about the size of Texas, tucked neatly into the western part of Sudan.

In Darfur, tens of thousands of black Africans have been systematically slaughtered by an Arab militia known as the Janjaweed. Tens of thousands of women and children have been raped and mutilated, while millions more have been forced to flee their homes.

The United Nations says the Janjaweed is sponsored by the Sudanese government. Over the weekend, Sudan agreed to accept a peace deal brokered by the African Union, but the Janjaweed and other rebel groups have yet to agree to terms.

Someone once called Darfur the land of the three Ds -- death, disease and despair. According to the United Nations, Darfur is the world's worst humanitarian disaster. U.S. officials have another phrase for this slow-building tsunami -- genocide in the 21st century.

The poorest of the poor wind up in refugee camps. At last count that number was somewhere around three million people. But this may be for only a short while, as the few aid agencies still able to operate here are attacked regularly by the Janjaweed.

"Three million lives are at stake. Three million people need food," says the U.N.'s Egeland.

How does one begin to organize to feed three million hungry, angry people? So far this year, a handful of countries have contributed more than $100 million in aid. But the United Nations says it would need five times that amount to prevent millions of people from becoming extinct in plain sight.
Posted By Jeff Koinange, CNN Africa Correspondent: 1:25 PM ET
  22 Comments
Jeff, I am utterly speechless. What's on earth that in this fast moving world with advanced technology and wealth (in parts of the world) there is a place like Darfur the land of the three Ds -- death, disease and despair.

Go on AC360 -- make more coverage on this issue. Definitely the US government can do more than what has been done now. If I have to choose between spending money in war zone, I'd rather rescue those God's creatures who are dying. Help!
Posted By Anonymous Georgiana, Houston, TX : 1:50 PM ET
This is going to reveal a small worldview and less than intelligent response but DAMN! How can so much of this be going on in the 21st century? Is it the have/have not imbalance around the world? You don't have to look far to see poverty and hunger but this is so overwhelming a different level. The U.S. is stretched so thin both economically and militarily. And how much can we give? Tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes on top of the man made injustices and atrocities makes wanting to help seem like a wish for impotence. I don't like using evil to describe any religion or cultural phenomena one doesn't agree with or understand but how else can you explain this. What can we do to help?
Posted By Anonymous Marty, Melbourne Florida : 1:59 PM ET
I have been reading quite a bit lately regarding the situation in Darfur and every article makes me more nauseaus than the last. When one looks at the 277 billion plus dollars the United States is throwing into two wars it makes you wonder when the priorities of the superpowers of the world are going to change. I can only hope that someday the importance of human rights will overide the hunger for oil and power. Unfortunately I have very little faith in that ever happening in my lifetime.
Posted By Anonymous Christie, Seattle WA : 2:00 PM ET
I am so thankful that this is becoming more of a daily news item, and hopefully soon, will be on the minds and hearts of most people very soon. I ranted on the blog about this last week. I just wish that it didn't take "star power" for people to take notice. God bless George Clooney.

I have no doubt that three million people can be fed. Americans contributed nearly $1 billion to the Red Cross to help those of us affected by Hurricane Katrina. Imagine what the world can do. I will do my part by giving today to help the people of Darfur.
Posted By Anonymous Paige B., Austin, TX : 2:01 PM ET
It's too bad that Darfur is not on our border. All 3 million refugees could just walk to America and get the help they need...jobs, an education, free health care. When will we learn. After the Nazi's, Bosnia, Cambodia, Rowanda...when will learn. All of the peoples of the world are important. It's up to us and the other civilized nations of the world to end this. Not just in Sudan, but everywhere. There can be no higher calling...nothing more basic than helping to alleviate the suffering of fellow human beings no matter where they are.
Posted By Anonymous Allan, Burlington KS : 2:19 PM ET
I think a chunk of that aid money should be spent on a task force to mercilessly eradicate these horrible rebel groups of rejects that go around raping women and killing innocent people.
Posted By Anonymous Dan, NY, NY : 2:34 PM ET
How ill-informed is america that this is just becoming news? It's been going on forever. How can we advertise ourselves as justice and democracy when we allow this sort of thing to go on (clinton knew about it as well, it's been a long time of the united states ignoring this) and kill as many innocents as we have in Iraq? How poor is our new system that this news hasn't been front page for years?

How do the people in charge sleep at night?
Posted By Anonymous marsha brown, nyc, ny : 2:40 PM ET
Jeff I greatly respect your reporting and feel you should be given a greater voice. In the ignored horror one has to admire the "dignity" of those in the camps and the mothers who are not abandoning their children. Seems like the commodities are oil, yellow cake, arms and illegal drugs with little thought for the environment or human dignity all wrapped in flags and religion.
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista, ar : 3:02 PM ET
What's happening in Darfur is a tragedy and the fact that it's been going on for three years makes me sick. It was great to see people coming together in Washington D.C. this past weekend to try to put an end to the genocide. What we need is awareness and I really respect people like George Clooney lending their star power to the cause. Everyone should be constantly contacting their senators and representative to let them know that this will not go on on our watch. We do this today so we can look ourselves in the mirror tomorrow.
Posted By Anonymous Stacy, St.. Louis, MO : 3:41 PM ET
The not so "civilized" world has turned a blind eye to the ongoing genocide in Darfur.

How much of this apathy is a result of the rich oil deposits which lie beneath southern Darfur and southern Sudan?

Are we allowing this disaster to go on to create a pretext for another "oil invasion"?
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 4:09 PM ET
I am horrified by what has been going over there. It has been going on for a long time. This is a global problem, the US cannot support the rest of the world. While we need to do what we can to help, we must not be the only place people look to for help. I commend people like George Clooney for making good use of their fame.
Posted By Anonymous Melina - Mesa, AZ : 4:40 PM ET
If there's one subject that the world needs to be talking about, this is it. It's been terribly under-reported until now and I'm glad that it's finally getting the attention it deserves. Now, let's see if CNN and other news networks can report on the situation daily and keep the awareness going, whether Hollywood stars like George Clooney keep talking about it or not. It seems that if one person can be saved from this increased awareness, it's worth it.
Posted By Anonymous Stephanie, Lawrence, KS : 5:03 PM ET
For almost 2 years now, I've been reading a much as I can about the situation in Darfur and letting people around me know about them. All I can say is how helpless and hopeless I feel knowing that in this day and age, people are still dying from starvation, children from the smallest ailments like diarrhea, and how ignorant the world still is about these issues. We, the USA, the most powerful (and wealthiest) nation in the world has done NOTHING! It's one thing not to know, but how can we know and not do anything. Please talk about it with your friends, family, colleagues. I think if more people are informed, it will get more attention. Please keep covering the story.
Posted By Anonymous Katie C, Los Angeles, CA : 6:10 PM ET
This is the story that needs to be discussed daily until something is done. I really have no oppinion on the border issue and don't think it as important as what is happening in Darfur. Thank you Jeff for your continued coverage of this issue.
Posted By Anonymous Rachel-Albuquerque, NM : 6:10 PM ET
It is a shame when there are 13 blogs on the issue of Immigration and the protests that took place yesterday and sandwiched in between is the really important issue, Darfur. Woman and children are being raped and mutilated. Hey CNN, ever hear of Over Kill!!
Posted By Anonymous Rachel-Albuquerque, NM : 6:15 PM ET
May the words of every politician and pundit be as meek as the hungriest children.
Posted By Anonymous Daryl Watson, Mason, TX : 6:22 PM ET
It never ceases to amaze me that the United States government can spend billions to kill people in Iraq, but can't spare a hundred million dollars to save the lives of so many people. I began learning about the genocide after 360 aired a piece with Nicholas Kristof in November. The idea that a modern day genocide can exist and no one seems to notice is just horrifying. It appears that the Holocaust and Rwanda have taught us nothing. Thank you for bringing attention to this genocide and I hope you stay safe as you continue to cover Darfur
Posted By Anonymous Kimberly Miller, Leola, PA : 7:55 PM ET
It breaks my heart that Anderson will get 65 comments on immigration issues and only 15 comments get posted here...Inertia is more powerful than the -much overused- word tsunami.
Posted By Anonymous Brigitte M. Montreal Canada : 11:02 AM ET
"It breaks my heart that Anderson will get 65 comments on immigration issues and only 15 comments get posted here...Inertia is more powerful than the -much overused- word tsunami."


It is sad. Could it be that Darfur is so far way and African and we cannot gain anything from the tragic situation in Darfur? Americans are often self absorbed and myoptic when dealing with tragedy in Africa! If it were Europe there would be an outcry!
Posted By Anonymous Elizabeth, Arlington, VA : 4:57 PM ET
darfur is an example of the sense of "justice" our country has.. if your country is sitting on the worlds largest oil reserve, more or less the worlds largest pile of money, and are being ruled by a totalitarian nationalist that doesnt want to share his money with us, then you deserve to be "liberated". yet if your a poor african country that is having its black population exterminatedn systematically... sorry... but uncle sam cant help you..instead of having your elite special forces killing in the jungles of east asia and the middle east for corporate endeavors, send some to the sudan to save 3 million people..granted.. they wont be able to pay us back.. but is that the only reason you should help somebody mr.protestant-right-wing-white man??
Posted By Anonymous dame, SF, CALi : 6:05 PM ET
First, Anderson didn't get 65 comments because immigration is a more important topic, it's more a case of having the privilege of writing to Anderson and showing our appreciation of his moving and intelligent verse and fair, intelligent reporting.

As for Darfur, anyone who wants to do something to try to help in a small way, go to www.savedarfur.org. The Million Voices for Darfur is a plan to send the president 1 million postcards urging him to support a stronger multi-national force to protect the civilians of Darfur. During his first year in office in response to a report on the Rwandan genocide,the President wrote in the margin of that report -"Not on my watch". By filling out this postcard online, you will be urging him to live up to those words by supporting this stronger multi-national force. You can also donate money but it is not required.
Posted By Anonymous Christina, Windber, PA : 6:44 PM ET
Thank you, Jeff, for bringing presenting this and other stories that deserve our outrage (and action!), yet too often fly under the radar.

In addition to Christina's (Windber, PA) suggestions related to www.savedarfur.org, you can (or better yet, we all can) contact your Congressional rep and senators. For contact info, please visit www.congress.org. The more they know that people care about this, the more likely they will be to take action.

Also, you can call, e-mail or write your local media outlets either to share your opinion or plea that they cover this story on a regular basis (as opposed to yet another local house fire or similar daily drama).
Posted By Anonymous Norah, West Chester, PA : 4:27 PM ET
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