For Darfur, Sudan, Friday marks a year since President Bush declared the atrocities there as genocide. Since 2003, the Arab Janjaweed militia has caused terror and bloodshed in Darfur. The Janjaweed have scoured the Darfur region, attacking communities of black Africans. There are 400,000 already dead and hundreds of thousands immigrating into Chad for shelter from the Janjaweed, action needs to be taken. Maybe Bush has had a few other international affairs on his mind, but declaring genocide in another country and not doing anything about it is almost criminal, especially when people are crying out for help. The world’s apathy for those who have no where to go is appalling, especiallywhen we have recognized the problem. There is so much that can be done, yet we continue to do nothing. Every day, thousands of people are being killed, tortured and forced to flee from the only homes they have ever known. The Sudanese government has done nothing to stop the Janjaweed, even going so far as watching overhead from helicopters as riders on horseback go in and capture innocent citizens. On Sept. 8, speakers from organizations around the world came together in front of the White House to support Africa Action’s (www.africaaction.org) mission to promote outside aid for the people of Darfur. For people who don’t live in the Washington, D.C., area, Africa Action is asking people to call President Bush at (202) 456-1414 and ask him to help the people of Darfur. College students are also organizing around the country to take a stand and help these refugees. STAND (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur) has been created to band students together and raise awareness of this tragedy. At www.standnow.org, students are able to sign petitions, buy wristbands and T-shirts, and find resources to get the word out to government representatives and media networks. Fortunately, some actions have already been taken.
According to Student Public Interest News, the African Union, a young coalition of 54 African countries, has sent 4,000 troops to Sudan to help the refugees, but since this organization is only three years old, they need outside help from more experienced countries. Essentially, Sudan doesn’t need military help, just assistance for refugees who have migrated to Chad. The fuel shortage and Hurricane Katrina have shifted attention from this crisis in Africa. These national issues are ones that affect us directly, from family members who lost everything to having to rearrange our budget to compensate for rising gas prices.
But it’s important not to forget about those in other countries that truly need our help. Many people only care about things that affect them directly, but I believe being a good American includes wanting to help those who are less fortunate, both in our own country and around the world. Even if you don’t have any money to donate (but if you do, check out www.savedarfur. org), you can still e-mail or call President Bush and tell him how much Sudan needs our help. So, find time, get online and sign the petition, write an e-mail, tell a friend. If each of us does one of these things, the total power of our voice will make a difference. Even if the genocide in Darfur doesn’t affect you directly, we still have the responsibility as human beings to care about others who aren’t as lucky as we are. Kelsey Childress is a student at Kansas State University.