Do We Care About Sudan?
By Dr. Bruce C. Swaffield
Professor, Regent University
One million people are dying – a number equal to a major
city in the United States.
Imagine everyone in a single metropolis suffering from famine, disease and
the effects of war.
Despite such an immediate tragedy in Africa, world leaders are debating
what to do to help.
So far, up to 30,000 people have died since the crisis began 15 months ago.
In February 2003, an uprising by rebel groups was met with resistance from
Sudanese forces and affiliated Arab militia. As a result, more than a million
persons from black African tribes fled their homes in Darfur after being attacked
by Arab Janjaweed troops.
The United States wants to help. Both the Senate and House of Representatives
passed a resolution declaring that genocide is taking place in western Sudan.
Britain wants to help. A London newspaper said recently that Prime Minister
Tony Blair was planning to deploy British troops to the area, but Blair later
labeled the report as “premature.”
The United Nations wants to help. The UN Security Council plans to pass
a resolution threatening sanctions against the Sudanese Government.
But Sudan says it doesn’t want or need help.
“We don’t need any UN resolutions,” says Mustafa Osman
Sudan’s Foreign Minister. “Any resolutions from the Security Council
will complicate things.”
“This pressure closely resembles the increased pressure that was put
on Iraq before the war,” Ismail added.
According to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, “Once they do what is
right, the meddling will stop.”
Meanwhile, up to one million persons are dying. They cannot wait for proper
diplomacy, formal negotiations or government resolutions to be fed, to be
housed or to be treated from their illnesses. Their need is immediate.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says that next month he plans
to visit the area where the refuges live in tent cities. But what will he
find? How many more will die in the next two weeks or even in the next two
How would each one of us feel if we had to wait for help when we were hungry,
homeless and sick?
We need to urge our government and the UN to take action now. We must take
care of our brothers and sisters in Africa just as we would want them to help
us in a time of similar disaster.
If the government of Sudan will not allow other countries to bring in food,
water and medical supplies, then we need to bring a forcible end to this genocide.
There will be plenty of time later to discuss whether the Arab militia,
in cooperation with the Sudanese government, is carrying out a plan of ethnic
cleansing against black Africans. There will be time later, too, to decide
whom to punish with diplomatic sanctions.
What matters right now is saving these people. We have to act first and
talk later. One way or another, by peace or force, all of us have a responsibility
to see that these suffering people are treated in a civilized and humane manner.
At this tragic time, it would help each one of us to remember the words
of George Washington Carver: “How far you go in life depends on your
being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with
the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because some day in life
you will have been all these.”
What happens to these one million people in Sudan will show the world who
we are and what we stand for in the United States.
More perspectives on CBN.com
from the Regent University of Journalism
Bruce Swaffield is a professor in the Regent University School of Journalism
in the the College of Communication. He
welcomes your e-mail comments.
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