Guest Author - Lisbeth Cheever-Gessaman
Since 2003, the Darfur Conflict between Sudanese government forces, ethnic militia and the Sudanese Liberation Army has raged virtually non-stop. As part of this operative, a systematic campaign has been waged against the civilian population who are members of the same ethnic groups as the rebels. The resultant estimates of the deaths in Darfur currently range from 50,000 (World Health Organization) to 450,000 (Dr. Eric Reeves, 28 April 2006), with most Non-Governmental organizations using 400,000 as the approximate figure. The approximate totals for the numbers of women and children raped, tortured and murdered is unknown but believed to be in the high thousands.
There are debates as to whether or not the term ‘genocide’ applies, but it is certain that calling it a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ would not be overstatement.
On May 5th, 2006, the Sudanese government signed the Darfur Peace Agreement with one rebel party, but the others refused to sign insisting that it failed to address key issues critical to the peace process. Since that date, fighting in Darfur has significantly increased and there exists no present force in Darfur capable of bringing the conflict to any swift resolution. Between July and August alone, more than 21,000 people were forced to flee their homes in as fighting between armed groups escalated and led to further attacks on villages.
And the conflict shows no sign of lessening.
Sunday, September 17th marks the one year anniversary of the United Nations pledge to provide security for civilians around the world, and has been designated as the International Day for Darfur. Events are planned in nearly every major city and will include peace marches, rallies and other non-conflict protests.
But from the comfort of your living room/bedroom/office, here are some things you can do to actively participate:
Add Your Name to the Day of Darfur Campaign.
This online pledge also features options to attach your name to a petition that will be delivered to the Secretary General of the UN as well as your government:
Wear a Blue Hat!
When UN peacekeeping forces enter a region, they are recognized by the blue berets and helmets they wear. Wearing a blue hat on September 17th symbolizes the urgent need to protect the people of Darfur with UN peacekeeping forces.
And? They even feature their own photoshopping tool to add it online, where you will be featured in the ‘Blue Hat Gallery”. At the time of this writing, I’m on the front page (and unnecessarily excited about that, I might add).
To upload and create your own photo wearing a blue hat for Darfur, click here:
Blue Hats For Darfur!
Other Things of Timely Interest You Can Do to Get Involved Already!
Things of Timely Interest!
What are you waiting for?
Sources: Human Rights Watch, Q&A: Crisis in Darfur, www.hrw.org