The emergency in Sudan's western region of Darfur presents the starkest challenge to the world since the Rwandan genocide in 1994. A government-backed Arab militia known as Janjaweed has been engaging in campaigns to displace and wipe out communities of African tribal farmers.
Villages have been razed, women and girls raped and branded, men and boys murdered, and food and water supplies targeted and destroyed. Government aerial bombardments support the Janjaweed by hurling explosives as well as barrels of nails, car chassis and old appliances from planes to crush people and property.
Since 2003, at least four hundred thousand people have been killed. More than two million people were forced to flee their homes. They are now living in displaced-persons camps in Sudan or in refugee camps in neighboring Chad. And, more than 3.5 million people are completely reliant on international aid for survival.
In-fighting among the various rebel groups, including the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), has also taken a damaging toll. Not since Rwanda has the world seen such a calculated campaign of displacement, starvation, rape, and mass slaughter. The only thing keeping the death rates in Darfur from skyrocketing is the presence of one of the most elaborate humanitarian aid systems the world as ever seen—and now, the aid network is coming under attack as well.
In July of 2006 alone, more aid workers were killed than in the previous three years combined. Aid workers have also frequently been arrested by the Sudanese government. If the aid network collapses due to violence, the monthly death rate in Darfur could top 100,000 according to Jan Egeland, UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs.
The men, women, and children of Darfur are being deprived of their humanity. Many of them have lost their homes, communities, families, and dreams for the future. Their government continues to deny that they need international protection; even as thousands more are displaced by government-backed attacks. Those who escape the initial threat face attacks daily, the constant threat of further violence, and the ever-present specters of disease and starvation. Since the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement on May 5, 2006, things have actually gotten worse, and the possibility of a dramatic increase in death rates looks increasingly real. These families need your support—they can't afford to wait any longer.
Printed from Oprah.com on Thursday, December 5, 2013