Oversimplifying and overlooking Sudan

It is dangerous to generalize a situation as deeply complex as the conflict in Darfur.

If they have even heard of the ongoing genocide in Darfur, the atrocity to many Americans is seen as a savage chaos. The issues involved are deep and the U.S.’s refusal to get involved in Sudan when it has intervened in Kosovo and Bosnia is soaked in ignorance. Like Rwanda, Sudan is ignored.

The conflict in Sudan first gained media spotlight in 2003 and more recently with the political tension rising. The issue in Sudan is not over race. Arabs and non-Arabs are not easily distinguishable by color, by examining certain facial features – one cannot tell Arab from African. Years of co-existence and intermarriage has resulted in merging identities, and most Sudanese consider themselves Afro-Arab Muslims, reflecting their mixed identities and competing loyalties. In desperate situations, anarchy breeds where governments fail and family and tribe become primary protectors; tribal affiliations have thus become the primary allegiance.

Despite that reality, it is too easy to label this conflict as a racial one. The crisis stems from the prevalence of weaponry, tribal affiliations, external intervention by neighboring countries, and most importantly, land and water resources. One of the main problems is a lack of resources as most deaths in this region are from malnutrition and starvation.

There should be a focus on providing resources for a country with so little. Instead of intervening, mediation is needed since interventions only go so far, and at times only rearrange the hierarchal structure without eliminating the roots of the problem. Weapon confiscation, peacekeeping forces and facilitated discussions are necessary. Otherwise, the situation will continue to convey the general apathy shown toward people of darker complexion who inhabit the poorest regions of the world.

We continue to ignore and the real genocide is the nonchalant attitude of the privileged West toward those who find themselves less materially privileged. Just as the American public grapples with the tragedy of those forgotten in New Orleans by its own government, the world grapples with yet another tragedy. A year ago the U.S. declared that genocide was happening in Sudan. Sadly, U.S. hasn’t done anything since.