State sponsored genocide kills thousands in the Darfur region of Sudan, Africa

A little boy lies dead in the sands of the Darfur region of Sudan, Africa, he is not alone. A crisis, a genocide, the systematic destruction of a racial and cultural group, is currently going on in Africa. Over 400,000 innocent people have already died or are past saving, with 1,000 more being killed each day. The Sudanese government is using Arab “Janjaweed” militias, organized starvation, and air forces to systematically kill the black Sudanese in the Darfur area. Among their methods are murder, rape, and terrorism. According to human rights groups, the government is carrying out an ethnic cleansing campaign with backing from the militia. More than a million people have been driven from their homes, are starving to death, and are dying from disease as the government and its militias are blocking humanitarian aid. Their villages and crops have been destroyed, their water supplies poisoned. Some call it the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. How did it come to this? Conflicts between Arabs and Africans in Sudan have existed for sometime. The first tensions began back in the ‘70s because of the competition for scarce natural resources in Darfur. In 2003, African rebel groups were angered because of inequalities between the ruling Arabs and Africans. As a result, they struck out against the government. In turn, the government armed militias to go after certain ethnic groups. The government-backed “Janjaweed” terrorize Africans, destroy villages, murder, eliminate food supplies, block international help, and systematically rape women to humiliate and weaken ethnic lines. Sudan has also been experiencing a civil war for the past 21 years between Arab Muslims in the north and black Africans in the south. A peace deal was signed in May to end the civil war, but no major changes have resulted. However hopeless the situation in Darfur may seem, there are ways to help save lives, and try to stop the tragedy to prevent Darfur from becoming another Holocaust or Rwanda. Donations can be made to organizations dedicated to stopping the tragedy, such as the Darfur Advocacy Fund. International petitions can be signed demanding peace and justice, a “New Sudan,” humanitarian intervention, and more. There are many student activist groups, such as the National STAND Coalition, Not Now Not Ever, and the Genocide Intervention Fund that work to alleviate the problems through public awareness, relief funds, and political action. High school students can also spread the word through web graphics and icons that draw attention to the problem. There are national events designed to inform and take a stand against the suffering. The U.S. has started negotiations with the United Nations to work on a security council resolution that threatens to consider new sanctions against Sudan if it doesn’t stop the militias. From the signing of the Genocide Convention in 1948, the U.S. has made a commitment to prevent and punish genocide, along with more than 130 countries including the UK, Canada, and most other European countries. Ames High juniors Micah Simpson and Justin Upah felt that the United States is not doing enough to help the situation. “They, the government, are too afraid of getting into another Somalia or Vietnam situation. The situation in Darfur is not on the news because they don’t want people to think about it. If more people think about it the more people will say we need to go there and do something to help,” junior Micah Simpson said. “We should at least increase communication between the groups involved,” junior Justin Upah said. As high schoolers, the two of them felt that high school students should, but lack the motivation, to help. “High school students are capable of making a difference but they aren’t motivated to do so.” Upah said. “People are not willing to sacrifice personal comfort in order to help others.”