The Independent (UK) reported today that attacks by Arab militiamen have crossed the border from Western Sudan into Chad.
The village is still smouldering. A girl combs through the remains of a burnt-down hut with her bare hands, trying to salvage knife blades and rakes that were not consumed by the fire. Two women, with tears in their eyes, have broken down in front of a pile of ash, wailing violently.
A band of youths is patrolling the ruins near Koukou-Angarana, bows and arrows slung over their shoulders, boomerangs and knives at the ready. But their decision to form a self-defence group has come too late. The Arab horsemen who swept through the village on their bloody rampage have long since vanished.
It is a tragically familiar scene in Darfur, the province of western Sudan where more than 200,000 people have been killed and at least two million brutally forced from their homes - a genocide unleashed and sustained by the Islamist government in Khartoum - but this man-made inferno now sweeping across the plains is taking place across the Sudanese border in Chad. The pattern is identical to events in Darfur, where the well-armed Arab raiders allied to the Sudanese government set villages ablaze, rape the women, and leave a trail of dead black Africans in their wake. Just as in Darfur, the Sudanese government is being accused of being behind the violence in Chad, an accusation which is rejected by Khartoum.
The US has called Darfur a genocide. John Bolton, US Ambassador to the UN (why is he leaving?), called Darfur a genocide. But the last I heard, the UN itself--purported defender of human rights around the world--has never called it a genocide, because then they might have to do something about it. And now the genocide spreading.
Outgoing Secretary-General of the UN, Kofi Annan spoke before a group of human rights leaders on December 8, 2006. The text of his speech is here (pdf). In it, he referred to Darfur this way:
"what is happening in Darfur"
"The tragedy of Darfur"
"this burning issue"
Yes, indeed, the tragedy of the horror that's happening in Darfur is such a burning issue that the Secretary-General all but ignored it for three years and is now passing off responsibility to his successor. He ended his statement this way:
So it’s no mere figure of speech, dear friends, when I say that I leave the future of the UN’s human rights work in your hands.
Those hands couldn't do any worse than Kofi's did.
In his farewell address, delivered December 11, 2006, Kofi Annan took the opportunity to criticize... Sudan for continuing the genocide in Darfur? The UN itself for ignoring Darfur with such studied dedication?
Hardly. He criticized the US for "appear[ing] to abandon its own ideals and objectives."
"As President Truman said, 'The responsibility of the great states is to serve and not dominate the peoples of the world,'" Annan said.
Somehow, I thought the responsibility of the UN was to serve the people of the world, defending their human rights, and preventing genocide from happening again. And if genocide does happen, the UN is to stop the monsters who commit it.
This village in Chad is one more piece in a long line of evidence proving that the UN has failed in its mission. It's well past time to dismantle the UN--the world would be no worse without it. Maybe then, we could work together with other countries that care, and finally take action that would help the victims of genocide.