Genocide has been going on in the Darfur region of Sudan for the past six years. Estimates are that anywhere between 300,000 and 600,000 people have been killed. Over two million people have fled the country into neighboring Chad, creating a massive humanitarian crisis.
The culpability of the government in the deaths of hundreds of thousands seems clear to most, even prompting the International Criminal Court this week to issue an arrest warrant for the President, Omar al-Bashir, for atrocities and war crimes. The specifics: two counts of "war crimes"--intentionally directing attacks against civilians and pillaging--as well as five "crimes against humanity"--murder; extermination; forcible transfer; torture; and rape.
And yet, at the same time, international aid groups are asking for a hold on the arrest of Mr. Bashir. Why? Because half an hour after the ICC's announcement, most of them were ordered to leave the country, including Oxfam, Care, Medecins Sans Frontieres, and Save the Children UK. Their expulsion will affect the care being provided to hundreds of thousands of children in Darfur. You can read more about this current situation here.
All this is to say, the tragedy in Darfur is complicated in many ways. Experts could spend hours, days, and weeks, discussing why the violence is taking place, who's truly culpable, and what can be done to bring an end to it. After all, the world has been watching it for six years without relief and a clear way out has yet to emerge.
In the end, though, the thing that is not complicated about Darfur is the affect the violence is having on Sudan's children. This week, the BBC News Online published drawings from children in refugee camps in Chad, detailing their experiences prior to their flight from the region. These drawings were collected by a group called Waging Peace and will be used by the International Criminal Court as evidence of what's happened in Darfur. I include three of these pictures below, with the young artist's names beneath:
The note written on Aisha's picture is what prompted me to post this update on Darfur and the children's pictures. All I can say is, I read it and wept: "It is very kind to send us food, but this is Africa and we are used to being hungry. What I ask is that you please take the guns away from the people who are killing us."
Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
"He won't call me to account"?
But you, O God, do see trouble and grief;
you consider it to take it in hand.
The victim commits himself to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
Break the arm of the wicked and evil man;
call him to account for his wickedness
that would not be found out.
The LORD is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.