Trouble in Darfur: Government Complacency in Ethnic Genocides

The Darfur Region is an area in western Sudan that has been marred by conflict and genocide since the early 21st Century. ‘Darfur’ literally means ‘Land of the Fur’, with the Fur being an predominant ethnic group living in the region. The reasons for conflict stemmed from an extension of the Second Sudanese Civil War, which occurred between the predominantly Arab Government in the northern capital of Khartoum and the predominantly Sub-Saharan African population, who were located in the southern half of the country. Darfur was populated by quite a few of these Africans, leading to a separate rebellion occurring in the area in 2003. A group referring to itself as the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) began an insurrection located partially within the Darfur region, claiming that the Government was not doing enough for the western regions, and was disregarding their African population as a whole. In response, the Sudanese Government began to arm and supply local militias, who were predominantly composed of Arabized African Muslims and a few actual ethnic Arabs living in the area. These militia came to be known collectively as the Janjaweed, and their responsibility was combatting the SRF wherever they were.

Normally, this likely would have just devolved into another African conflict between competing ethnic groups, with the Janjaweed and SRF fighting it out in the Darfur region until one side was forced to concede victory. However, the Janjaweed had a rather poor track record with regards to human rights: they had been used earlier by the Government in order to suppress a smaller uprising in the Nuba mountains, and that had led to a significant amount of carnage and human rights violations on the part of the Janjaweed militias. This case, unfortunately, turned out to be no different. The Janjaweed militia quickly took to dispatching many of the ethnic minority groups who made up the SRF’s largest recruiting blocks in one of the harshest slaughters to ever plague the African continent. Thousands were dispatched, tortured, raped, and murdered. Entire villages that had absolutely nothing to do with the SRF or any insurrectionist activities in the Darfur Regions were slaughtered.

Genocidal rape has been used by the Janjaweed in an attempt to curb the population of these ethnic minority groups. As previously mentioned, many women and children were sold into sexual slavery, or simply raped by members of the Janjaweed after they had finished massacring the men within the village. Any women of the Fur ethnicity who are visibly pregnant are killed so that they cannot bear more Fur children. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, Janjaweed militia members have even crossed the border into Chad to commit further rapes and killings of the ethnic populations there. Death tolls have ranged in estimate from 80,000 to almost half a million depending on the sources. 
The Government of Sudan has consistently and constantly remarked that it never provided any kind of military support for the pro-Arab Janjaweed militias in the Darfur Region. In spite of this, however, there is a plethora of evidence to show that Sudan’s Government was complicit in both arming and giving intelligence to the Janjaweed militia. Sudan’s President at the time, Omar al-Bashir, was more than willing to order Government arms to go to the Janjaweed militia to ensure that they kept on with their fight against the rebel groups in the Darfur Region. In 2008, discussions within the International Criminal Court regarding the involement of Al-Bashir with regards to the genocide that occured in the Darfur Region commenced, though no charges were pressed. However, in March of 2009, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir on charges of crimes against humanity. al-Bashir remained in power until April of 2019, when he was ousted in a military coup. In spite of this action, people remain skeptical that any change will come to the Darfur region, and no one is quite sure as to when there will be an end to the Darfur conflict.

Trapped in Poverty: Food Security Crisis in South Sudan

Food insecurity has been one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the world since World War II, and it has always been a primary concern in South Sudan. As a newly independent country, South Sudan has faced constant challenges since it was born in 2011. Turbulence and violence occurred in the country over five years of civil war. At least 50,000 were killed, more than 2 million displaced, leaving farmland abandoned. The economy was obliterated and food prices became devastatingly high. As a result, nearly 5 million people, about half of South Sudan’s total population, are facing severe food shortages.

For the past two years, an ongoing drought has severely decreased the harvest of South Sudan. This year’s harvest was the smallest since 2011. According to the World Food Program (WFP), the harvest only produces a fraction of South Sudan’s needs, leaving 5 million people under severe food insecurity, and 21,000 are likely living under famine conditions. Despite the fact that they are there trying to help, aid workers are frequently targeted by government forces and rebels. The destruction of roads makes food distribution increasingly difficult. The WFP suggests that the lack of food security could lead to a “poverty trap” where poverty causes food insecurity, hunger, and malnutrition, which negatively affect physical and mental development. This then leads to a low productivity level and ultimately forms a vicious circle.

In order to alleviate the effects of food insecurity, the United States should provide funding to NGOs and IGOs focussing on assisting those who face serious challenges. Research shows that enough food is being produced throughout the year, but a huge amount of it goes to waste, so that many people end up not having enough food. Two organizations that should be taken into consideration for the funding are Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (Oxfam) International and World Food Programme (WFP), as the primary concern of both is to reduce poverty and increase food security.

Founded in 1942, Oxfam is dedicated to creating a future where there is no one lives in poverty. It recognizes the inequality all over the world and believes that injustice is the root of the problem, demonstrating a high level of understanding of the complexity of the issue. While supporting people with direct funding and food, Oxfam also works on improving the underlying structure behind. They are also helping women and their families create lasting solutions to lift themselves from extreme poverty. The broadness and deepness of their work leave people with a prominent impression.

While Oxfam is determined in finding a long-term solution for the whole situation, WFP provides emergency relief that clears the obstacles along the way. WFP’s first project was launched in 1963 in Sudan, and soon became fully developed with its UN programme, saying it would last for “as long as multilateral food aid is found feasible and desirable.” Funded entirely by voluntary donations, WFP delivers food and other assistance to those in need on a daily basis and distributes more than 15 million rations every year. They are willing to conduct their work in conflict-affected countries such as South Sudan, where people are three times more likely to be facing a food crisis. The WFP’s willingness to risk the lives of their workers proves their determination to alleviate the problem.

Funding toward the aforementioned NGOs would greatly help in eliminating poverty in South Sudan, as Oxfam is focusing on the root of the problem while WFP takes care of the people on a daily basis. With help from those organizations, people from South Sudan can have better access to food resources.

By the Way Mali, you’re being invaded 🙄

Arian Islam

In recent years, a radical group called Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb has plagued Mali as a group whose agenda is to engulf Sahel under their rule. Although their time on Earth has been short, their actions have proved to be worthy of gaining attention from powerful Nations who feel their presence as a threat. Since the emergence of AQIM, they’ve brought destruction in their path to pursue their agenda, occupying northern Mali but causing upheavals all around the Sahel, Without them even doing anything.

Interestingly, Mali, which is supposed to lead in the fight against Islamic Extremism, doesn’t even have the government to do so, which allows AQIM to run one of their favorites- Hostage and demand. People that are most vulnerable are Westerners, mostly because of their value and the fact that their families will pay high amounts just to be able to see them again. According to Islamic AQIM Commander Hamaha, this is what he loves about Western Countries- they’re financing Jihad. What’s worse is that they’re making bank from ransoms, AQIM reported to have earned $90 million dollars in 2012, making them one of the wealthiest and best armed militant groups. What Hostages are subjected to is the usual. They’re given very little food, they get a drop of water from a gas can, and use the sand of the desert as their bed. AQIM’s actions are brazzen to the fact that they are favored towards people with money and reputation, whether it be a tourist or an official, like political officers and foreign diplomats that are protected by armed troops. Because he has the clout, Hamaha regularly gets phone calls from international Journalists asking about the status and reason(s) of why he kidnaps the people he kidnaps. In the case of the Canadian Diplomat he kidnapped Hamaha stated “Ah yes, the Canadian we kidnapped. I do not regret it at all, he was in a state of being lost”. What does he mean by “being lost”? The diplomat, named Mr. Fowler, who was sent by the UN, stated that his kidnappers kidnapped him because they sensed a “spiritual imbalance” residing within Mr. Fowler. These petty reasons turn to serious criminal actions that AQIM pursue in order to bring balance and peace to the world.

To compartmentalize how dangerous this group is, France has deployed 4,500 of its own troops in addition to having backup from US special forces and intelligence officers and 12,000 UN peacekeeping troops, along with the 10,000+ G5 Sahel joint force troops and the Sahel Alliance, which was launched in 2017 by Germany and France along with the EU, which has expanded it to other European Countries, the World Bank, The African Development Bank, and the UN Development Programme. 

In my opinion, I believe that in order for AQIM to be taken down or at least suppressed instead of having Western countries shoulder the rest of Mali, Mali should make efforts to expand and strengthen its government’s power in order to efficiently be able to combat AQIM influence. After Mali has put efforts to strengthen their government, they should consider their geographical position, which is that the capital is in the south of the country while AQIM is taking over the North. Mali has little power in the North, and considering that Mali is not a small country, it’s very weak and therefore essentially Northern Mali is a warzone that is unsupervised. In terms of getting help, there aren’t any non-profit organizations that can battle against AQIM, even the UN struggles to make any dent in the issue. In recent years the only country to really make an improvements is France, who have confirmed the killing of important leaders of AQIM. even then, the participants of the Sahel Alliance, the US, and the United Nations must only support the government of Mali rather than shouldering the responsibility by itself entirely. Only from the inside can Mali rid the plague of AQIM.

We Suffer from the same Illness as in Ancient Times

Records from as far back as 1550 BCE in the Ebers Papyrus (an Egyption medical text) describe the same symptoms the world sees in malaria today: headaches, chills, periodic fevers, and an enlarged spleen. The disease is believed to have been brought to Europe through the Nile Valley. During the time of the Roman Empire, it was recognized that those living near marshlands were often those who fell ill to the “Roman fever”. The Italians call it mal’ aria, which translates to “bad air”, since they believed bad air was the cause of the illness. Malaria was a worldwide disease by the 1800s. In 1880, blood from those who contracted malaria were examined and the parasites were discovered. Many scientists dedicated their lives to discovering the means of transmission, allowing the world to now know that only 50 of the 3,000 mosquito species are capable of spreading malaria through the bite of a female. It takes less than an hour for the parasites to reach the liver, where they will remain for anywhere between two weeks to several months, before multiplying in red blood cells and taking over the body.

3,200,000,000 people around the world are threatened with malaria. There are 200,000,000 cases worldwide each year. Over 80 percent of all cases (160,000) are in Africa, and 90 percent of the deaths caused by malaria are on the continent. One in ten children will have contracted malaria and died before they reach the age of five. On average, one child will die every three minutes. Nigeria has the most cases of malaria, numbering 200,000 deaths per year. 96 percent of Nigerians are at risk of contracting malaria; it is a country which has no safe haven from the malady.

The United States State Department needs to fund Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to help exterminate the parasite. The Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, is one of the best choices for the State Department to fund. Malaria is one of the most common diseases MSF treats and it costs only 40 cents to buy anti-malarial pills for a child. The anti-malarials work, despite urban myths, but in Nigeria specifically, the drugs “are either falsified, or of poor quality, or degraded or substandard” as citizens sell bogus medicine to earn a living. The harder struggle for NGOs comes with reaching remote areas that are the most at-risk, however, Doctors Without Borders treated over 2,500,000 cases of malaria during 2016. MSF has efficient and transportable diagnosing blood tests traveling with mobile clinics that follow the population, so no one is restricted from treatment. MSF works to improve the effect of anti-malarials, as the parasites have begun to develop a slight immunity to the medicine, and provides the anti-malarials preventatively, along with mosquito netting to anyone who needs it.

Considering the deavistating nature of malaria, the State Department should invest in the Malaria Consortium as well as MSF. The Malaria Consortium already provides care in Nigeria. During the 2019 malaria season the workers aspire to treat 3,680,000 vulnerable children with anti-malarials. The Malaria Consortium passes out long-lasting insecticide coated nets, to kill the mosquitoes transmitting the disease. The Malaria Consortium is either already partnered or looking to partner with many other organizations in an effort to eradicate the disease. It plans to monitor and research drug resistance in Southeast Asia, as to prevent the spreading of drug resistance to Africa. Should the ability to resist drugs spread, undoubtedly the death toll will begin to rise from the current lowered figures, which represent the hard work put into fight this devastating disease. Malaria is a disease that has plagued the world for centuries. It is time to defeat the parasites that torment mankind. The United States State Department can do much for the eradication of the endemic, if they only decide to fund the NGOs specialized in anti-malarial treatment.