In the Darfur region of Sudan, 400,000 people have been murdered and 2 million have been forced into refugee camps, according to United Nations estimates.
As part of the International House’s Conversations about World Affairs series, Derrek Kayongo will speak about the causes of the crisis, give information about the current situation and tell people how they can help. The conversation will be held tonight at 7 p.m. in the I-House.
Kayongo is a representative of the humanitarian organization CARE International, which is a member of the Save Darfur Coalition, said Lee Rhea, director of the I-House.
The Save Darfur Coalition raises awareness about the atrocities in that region of Western Sudan, political science lecturer William Jennings said.
“They are pretty well-respected for what they are trying to do,” he said.
Darfur was chosen as the topic of the speech to keep the crisis in people’s consciousness, Rhea said. Even though the conflict isn’t in the news every day, the problem continues, he said.
“One of the problems that Americans have is when we have a crisis, we’ll think about it for a little while and then we’ll kind of forget about it,” Rhea said. “We need to help realize that certainly the problem has not gone away. It’s still there. It still needs attention.”
Indeed, the Darfur conflict persists. According to Jennings, five African Union peacekeepers stationed there were killed last week.
Asafa Jalata, professor of sociology, global studies and African-American studies, also said the conflict remains an issue.
“Genocide is going on in Darfur now,” he said.
Jalata blames the international community for the continuation of the conflict. The world needs to be more committed to ending the genocide, Jalata said.
“The international community just gives lip service,” he said. “They are not interested to intervene and stop. If they wanted, they could intervene and stop within a short time.”
Recently, the crisis has seemed to improve, but most of the progress toward peace has been fueled by the mass murders, Jennings said.
“The ethnic cleansing, in part, is why the conflict has gone down,” he said.
The Darfur conflict is the result of fighting between Northern Sudanese of Arab descent and Western Sudanese of African ancestry, Jalata said. The Arab militia, called the Janjaweed, is responsible for most of the killing, both Jalata and Jennings said.
While the Sudanese government does not officially support the Janjaweed, the militia does have ties to the government, and the government does little to stop them, Jalata said.
“The reason why the Sudanese government wants to destroy these people (Darfurians) is that they are resisting,” he said. “The more you resist, the more the government kills you.”
What the Western Sudanese are resisting is the oppression of the central government, Jalata said. Because the Darfurians are an indigenous people, the Arab central government suppressed them. The people of Darfur seek autonomy from the central government, Jennings said.
However, conflict is not unknown to this region of Africa. Jalata said the Horn of Africa has faced several humanitarian crises recently. In Somalia, for example, the Ethiopian government recently killed 400 to 500 people, he said.
“The whole region is a mess,” Jalata said.
Darfur needs help now, he added.
“The international community (and) people who care for humanity should raise their voice before the people of Darfur are totally eliminated,” he said.