I have a disturbing issue that I feel needs to be addressed. The Darfur conflict is an ongoing conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan, mainly between the Janjaweed (a government-supported militia recruited from local Arab tribes) and the non-Arab peoples of the region. The conflict began in February 2003, and has been described by the Western media as "ethnic cleansing", and "genocide". Although the large majority of resultant refugees are non-Arab black Africans fleeing Arab Janjaweed attacks, there are also Arab victims and non-Arab perpetrators. In addition, both sides are largely black in skin tone, and the distinction between "Arab" and "non-Arab" common in Western media is heavily disputed by many people, including the Sudanese government. Moreover, these labels have been criticized for sensationalizing the conflict into one of racial motivations.
Everyone in the region has felt the effects. Nearly three years into the crisis, the humanitarian, security and political situation continue to deteriorate: atrocities continue, people are still dying in large numbers of malnutrition and disease, and a new famine is feared. According to reports by the World Food Program, the United Nations and the Coalition for International Justice, 3.5 million people are now hungry, 2.5 million have been displaced due to violence, and over 400,000 people have died in Darfur thus far.
Rape has become a hallmark of the crimes against humanity in Darfur. It has proven one way for the Janjaweed militias to continue attacking Darfurians after driving them from their homes. Of course, for these families, life must go on. They must continue collecting wood, fetching water or working their fields to survive, and in doing so, women daily put themselves or their children at the risk of rape, beatings or death as soon as they are outside the camps, towns or villages. As victims of rape in Darfur are often too scared or too ashamed to seek help, it is assumed that the hundreds of rapes reported and treated grossly underestimate the actual number committed. In a culture where rape draws heavy social disgrace, victims are often ostracised by their own families and communities. These women and children have been forced from their communities and even punished for illegal pregnancies as a result of being raped.
The western Sudanese region of Darfur is acknowledged to be a humanitarian and human rights tragedy of the first order. In fact, the UN, prior to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, called the Darfur conflict the world's worst current humanitarian crisis.
In spite of all this, intervention by the UN is unlikely. The governments of key members of the Security are constrained in their ability to respond to the conflict. Everyone has their own agendas, and the Sudanese people clearly don't fit into First World policies. Clearly the international community is failing to protect civilians or to influence the Sudanese government to do so, so as Muslims, I feel that it is our responsibility. How can the umma stand united over a cartoon, yet turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to human suffering of the worst degree?! These are Muslims, Christians, and others; innocent women and children being subjected to, and in many cases forced to perpetrate violence.
There are several things we can do to help: we can actively participate in rallies, meetings, demonstrations, and petitions to put pressure on leaders and lawmakers; we can give donations to humanitarian organizations supporting this cause, and we can spread the word through the Internet to get more people involved.
I heard an amusing comment yesterday. The news mentioned that NATO is interested in intervening in the crisis, but that they are awaiting an invite from the African Union. The White House currently holds a similar stance. It's almost as if they are seeking permission from the Sudanese government!
I find this current Western view to be hilarious. Bush certainly didn't need an invitation to invade Iraq and help the "oppressed people" there!
Kudos to the African Union for their efforts, but 7,000 troops alone can't do the job. The world needs to stand firm against true tyranny instead of picking and choosing battles (literally and figuratively) based on politics. Just as pressure is now being put on Tehran, even more heat should be put on the Sudanese goverment to stop the killings.
YES, we should help. All the more so because many in the West believe that these crimes are being perpetrated in the name of Islam. We have no excuse, though I know I certainly feel helpless sometimes in the face of so much fitnah and turmoil in the world.
May Allah increase you and reward you for your soft heart and anger on His behalf and behalf of all humanity.
The Prophet (SAW) declared: 'Three du'as are surely answered: The du'a of the oppressed, the du'a of the traveler, and the du'a of the father/mother (upon their child)'. The One who is suffering injustice is heard by Allah (SWT) when he invokes Allah (SWT) to retain his rights from the unjust one or oppressor. Allah (SWT) has sworn to help the one who is suffering from injustice sooner or later as the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said.