As Americans we tend to become caloused to happenings in other parts of the world (myself included). The newest addition to our staff, Keith Strahan, is raising awareness for an area in the Sudan called Darfur. The following is an article that he wrote for the local newspaper.
Keith writes: “I wrote this article in hopes to raise awareness of happenings around the world. In this particular case of Darfur, a region of Sudan, I felt that it was necessary to gain the attention of people close to me. This article is not to diminish the other atrocities of our modern age, but to bring one forth in hopes that we as a people will dig and read to spawn a desire to bring the Gospel to lost and dying peoples.”
Over the past couple of months a situation that is taking place on the continent of Africa has caught my heart and attention. Many of you may be aware and are actively seeking help; some are aware but don’t know how to help; some are aware and don’t want to help; but for the most part we are ignorant of what is going on in Darfur. Darfur is a region of Sudan that is nestled in the West bordering Chad. If you do not know of the situation and the necessity for urgent action, let me give you an idea of what is going on.
It’s genocide. The Arab Janjaweed militias, backed by the Government of Sudan, have bombed and burnt the black Muslim population of Darfur from their homes. They’ve destroyed their crops and poisoned their water supplies. Now they’re preventing life-saving food and medicine from reaching them. The American Heritage Dictionary defines genocide as the systematic extermination of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group. The Sudanese government, along with the Janjaweeds, is specifically targeting this group of people. The claim by the rebels is that the government is favoring these Arabs over the Africans. So this is a government sponsored assault on a people group based on race.
Why isn’t anyone calling it genocide? Well, over 130 countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and most other European Union countries have signed an International Convention committing themselves to act to prevent genocide anywhere in the world. That’s why no government wants to call Darfur genocide. If any country does then the cost of that would be a joint effort to stop it. And with our country’s dealings elsewhere in the world and with French and Chinese oil ties in Sudan, many countries are reluctant to involve themselves. So, sadly it is left on the civilians to act and encourage our governments to see this horror and do something about it. Sad thing is, most see, and their foreign policy and political alliances cause them to turn their heads. Even American cable stations coverage of this conflict are far and few between. The only really reliable sources are from international news services such as the UK’s BBC and Reuters, the international equivalent of the Associated Press.
I’m not sure where your political philosophy of American interventionism lies, but I urge you to take time and consider. Over 1,000 people are dying every day. Over 400,000 have already died or are passed saving; the death toll could reach over 1 million. Time is not an ally. Disease and quite possibly military operations could increase this death toll more rapidly. I urge you to study and act. Read about this conflict and decide for yourself if these atrocities are worth your thought and action. Here is my fear, the same as from Hotel Rwanda, that “[You’ll] hear this, say ‘Oh, my God that’s terrible!’ then go back to eating [your] dinners.”
The only way now, without government help, to help prevent this, or at best alleviate some pain and suffering, will be to join up with some humanitarian efforts, particularly that of the Red Cross. Visit websites, like savedarfur.org, talk to me, call and e-mail your local representative and the President. But most of all, pray for these people, that this will give us an opening to share the Gospel of Christ. For that is the ultimate end.
A. Keith Strahan