Our attention has wandered. We (most of us, anyway) were never very focused on Darfur, but the focus we once mustered seems to have disappeared. And yet the genocide continues.
Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times continues to press Americans to focus on what is happening in Darfur and now, increasingly, in neighboring Chad. Last month, writing in the New York Review of Books, he recounted some of what he has seen:
On one of the first of my five visits to Darfur, I came across an oasis along the Chad border where several tens of thousands of people were sheltering under trees after being driven from their home villages by the Arab Janjaweed militia, which has been supported by the Sudan government in Khartoum. Under the first tree, I found a man who had been shot in the neck and the jaw; his brother, shot only in the foot, had carried him for forty-nine days to get to this oasis. Under the next tree was a widow whose parents had been killed and stuffed in the village well to poison the local water supply; then the Janjaweed had tracked down the rest of her family and killed her husband. Under the third tree was a four-year-old orphan girl carrying her one-year-old baby sister on her back; their parents had been killed. Under the fourth tree was a woman whose husband and children had been killed in front of her, and then she was gang-raped and left naked and mutilated in the desert.
Kristof also provided both some important information about the background of the genocide and some suggestions for what should be done. He pointed readers in the direction of an aid worker's blog, Sleepless in Sudan (now closed, but still well worth reading), and two recently published books: Darfur: A Short History of a Long War by Julie Flint and Alex de Waal and Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide by Gerard Prunier.