Responding to the Darfur Genocide
June 29, 2004
Nicolas Kristof / New York Times
Times Reporter Nicholas Kristof has filed a number of detailed and disturbing reports about the genocide in Sudan. As a result, readers have asked what they can do. In a commendable shift from the reporter's role, Kristof has responded with a list of actions that people can take and agencies that can be contacted to help the victims.
Nicolas Kristof Responds:
(June 22, 2004) -- Readers keep asking me what they can do about the genocide unfolding in Darfur, Sudan, or who they can write to. I'm in the reporting business, not the lobbying business.
But for those readers desperate for some ideas, here are some that have been passed on to me:
For readers who want to contribute financially, one of the main aid organizations active in Darfur itself is Doctors Without Borders. Its website is http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org . Another key group is the International Rescue Committee, which was building wells in one of the areas that I visited; its website is
Readers who want to engage their member of Congress or pursue the matter politically can find more information at this link from the International Crisis Group:
In addition, Africa Action is sponsoring an on-line petition calling for
tougher action against the killings in Darfur:
Human Rights Watch has produced superb reports on the crisis here:
Finally, for those who want to stay informed about the crisis in Darfur,
there are several websites that have regular updates of news there. One is http://www.gurtong.com , another is http://www.reliefweb.it and another is http://www.allafrica.com/sudan/
This is just a small sampling of what's out there. Most big aid groups,
including all the major faith-based ones, are helping, from Catholic Relief Services
to Friends of the World Food Programme
to World Vision
to American Jewish World Service
( http://www.ajws.org Indeed, one of the big gaps has been Islamic
charities, which have tended -- inexcusably -- to show sympathy for Sudan's Arab government. So the sad and ironic outcome is that the people of Darfur, who are virtually all Muslims, are getting significant help from Christians and Jews but almost nothing from fellow Muslims. I hope some Muslim aid groups will quickly remedy that.
More on Recent Islamic Aid in Darfur
Note: Since Kristof wrote his response about light Islamic aid in the Darfur region, at least one relief group--Islamic Relief- has moved into action. Kristof also corrects the record on this in a further response pasted below.
Let's hope much relief comes in from all quarters--irregardless of the dominant religious beliefs of the nations in question--to help the 750,000 displaced persons.
Beyond the relief efforts, it is time to yell at the politicians in Washington and elsewhere to do something.
Islamic Relief - UK
Islamic Relief Responds to Darfur Crisis: The plight of displaced civilians in Darfur has alarmed the international community and the UN. The crisis, described as the worst in recent years, has displaced 750,000 people internally, while another 130,000 refugees have fled to Chad, according to UN estimates.
To date, the Sudanese government has given aid agencies limited access to displaced people in the Darfur region. However, a ceasefire agreement signed on April 8th provides an opportunity for the international community to bring aid to the affected population.
Islamic Relief Response: Islamic Relief (IR) has clearance to work in West Darfur, and has pledged an initial ?116,000 for emergency intervention in the area. IR staff on the ground in El-Geneina have completed the first phase of emergency assistance. Food was distributed to around 18,000 displaced people and blankets to 1,400 people in Kerindang and Ardamata camps in El-Geneina. Additionally, 300 families who were sheltering in schools in El-Geneina were provided with basic construction materials.
The need for humanitarian assistance is enormous. Most of the displaced
people either have no shelter at all, or shelter under trees or under very
rudimentary straw structures (Rakubas). With the rapidly approaching rainy season in May to June, if the displaced population is not provided with shelter, thousands of people may lose their lives. Women, children and the elderly remain the most vulnerable.
Religion Hijacked for Politics
(June 23, 2004) -- After scolding Muslims for not doing more to help the people of Darfur, I got this email from Zeeshan in California:
I am a Muslim and ashamed to see yet another instance of Muslims committing genocide on other Muslims. I am originally from Bangladesh, and we are familiar with religion being hijacked for political agendas -- we were subject to a genocide in 1971 by the erstwhile ruling West Pakistanis.
Darfur is being covered by a Muslim charity that I donate to. Here's the link: http://www.irw.org/ or http://www.irw.org/sudan . I would appreciate posting this link as a proof that not all Muslims are turning a blind eye towards such a heart-breaking tragedy.
That link is for Islamic Relief, a major charity. I didn't come across its people on my visits to the Chad/Sudan border, but its website shows it to be commendably active on the issue. There are lots of other Muslim charities - the Islamic obligation to give zakat, or alms to the needy, has nurtured many aid groups - and they do fine work in poor countries. I hope more become active in Darfur.
They could play a particularly useful role because they would be more trusted by Sudan and might get better access, and they might also have more Arabic speakers on staff (most of the victims in Darfur speak a tribal language as their mother tongue, and then Arabic as a second language, making communication a big problem).