Darfur Fast for Life

We fast in solidarity with the hungry and starving in Darfur and for lasting peace in Sudan
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Friday, April 24

April 24, 2009 By: Pam Category: Pam Omidyar

Day 8

This is why I am fasting, on refugee rations, for Darfur:
(From Mia Farrow’s website. Used with her permission.)

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These are some of the children of Darfur. They were being treated by Medicins San Frontieres (MSF) until then the Government of Sudan expelled it and other aid organizations. Also, please see http://www.stopgenocidenow.org/. As Gabriel, KTJ, and others on the team have done so much to visit with Darfuri refugees and bring their stories to the rest of the world.

Please tell me why the lives of these children are less deserving of proper nutrition, peace, nurturing, and unlimited opportunity than those of other children around the world?

At what point did we become so numb to the now ubiquitous refrain attached to every media story on Darfur?

“The UN says 300, 000 people have died – many from disease and hunger – and 2.7 million have been made homeless by the Darfur conflict which erupted in 2003. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10 000.”

Granted, this is a newer version from one that was floating around in previous years. It changed in late 2008, when the UN did revisit the numbers. But how do we see this line and not demand the world do something? This applies to other horrific emergencies as well: Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sri Lanka, Columbia, Iraq. There are others. How do we prioritize whose lives are worth saving? Why if people die due to natural disasters does the world respond with overwhelming force? Yet, as death comes to millions at the hands of other men we helplessly do nothing. I can’t stop a hurricane or a tsunami or a flood. But I would hope that as a person, I can ask my fellow citizens to stop mass killing and violence.

As President Obama said in his Inauguration speech,

“To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.”

I think of this line often in my work. Why do world leaders get away with inaction, even as their citizens cry for something to be done? In the case of Sudan, Bashir came to power in a coup almost 20 years ago. Since then, has he improved the standard of living for the people of Sudan? Why do we not listen more to citizens and civil society during times of crisis? Yes, the war between the North and the South is over, but there has been little implementation of the CPA agreement, a form of restorative justice. And there has been no accountability for the millions who died in South Sudan, nor for the more than 4 million displaced for so long.

Why do only those holding guns get a place at the peace table? How do we bring all forms of peace and all forms of justice to all of Sudan?

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