The death toll in the war in Darfur underestimated
By: Jon Brunberg | posted: 3/10/2005 1:00:00 AM
From the statements made by UN envoy to Sudan, Jan Egeland, reported on March 9 it is clear that the United Nations is utterly frustrated by the lack of engagement from the western world in the case with the conflict in the Darfur region and the humanitarian situation in South Sudan. Reuters reports that Mr Egeland said that "...the old figure of 70,000 dead from last March to the late summer was unhelpful. 'Is it three times that? Is it five times that? I don't know but it is several times the number of the 70,000 that have died altogether.'"
Once again the southeast asian tsunami catastrophe was taken as an example of how the world could have reacted to the equally catastrophic situation in Sudan. Egeland asked at the press conference why it took 10 months to get the small 2000 man strong force from the African Union on the ground when there were 10,000 humanitarian workers already in Darfur. "And those (troops) could have been there last summer if we had been able to deploy tsunami-style," he said.
The situation in the southern parts of the country where rebel leaders signed a peace treaty in late 2004 have received even less financial support. While the red cross and other charities have been given far more money than they can actually use in the case with the tsunami, the international community have only given $51 of the $564 million that UN agencies have asked for to bring aid to southern Sudan.
The African Union is clearly standing in front of a great challange here and I seriously hope that they will succeed and thus prove to be a fource to count on. The Western world faces another challange, which is perhaps a tougher one, to see beyond the two main factors of engagement in other peoples affairs: family and business. Hopefully the tsunami catastrophe have changed that. Only miles from the paradise resorts of Phuket almost two hundred thousand people died in a province that many citizens in my country Sweden probably did not know of before, Aceh. Now they have also supported that region trough their donations. I am not overly optimistic about this argument but hopefully it will be an eyeopener among the many westerners that were affected by the tsunami.
Human Rights Watch