Columbia, SC — This year marks the 10th anniversary of the humanitarian catastrophe in Sudan, eponymously known to the world as Darfur.
When war emerged in the western region of Africa’s largest county during 2003, people everywhere were horrified over the killing of people at the hands of their own government. Activist organizations such as the Save Darfur Coalition and the Enough Project rose to call for the arrest of President Omar Hassan El Bashir of Sudan along with his henchmen and demand that they be brought to international justice. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell publicly called the government assault on Darfur genocide, and the entire world was outraged. For a moment.
Unfortunately, what always seems to happen when it comes to African affairs happened with Darfur. The outrage disappeared.
More than 300,000 lives have expired in Darfur since the war began, according to the United Nations. Other sources estimate the body count at nearly a half million people since 2003. Two-thirds of the population still struggles with the devastating effects of having militias on horseback swarm into their villages at the behest of the government and attack innocent, defenseless people.
Women and girls still cannot leave their homes to fetch water without fear of being raped and killed. The few men who remain know better than to reveal their presence, for they will surely not survive. Nearly three million people have fled the area for internally displaced person camps or refuge they might find elsewhere.
The conflict in Darfur has faded from the headlines now, but Sudan’s President Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for committing atrocities against his own people. American, NATO or other military intervention seems a hopeless proposition in light of conflicts in Syria and other places.
Nonetheless, the international community needs to stand behind the International Criminal Court and make its indictment a cause for action. Stop the carnage in Darfur before we again wind up saying “Never Again” without giving the phrase real meaning.
James E. Sulton Jr.