Sunday, May 20, 2007

What are you doing about Darfur?

This evening I attended an excellent talk arranged by the JCC. The meeting, which discussed the genocide in Darfur, was chaired by former MP, Stephen Twigg, who represented the Aegis Foundation. His guests were Ruth Messinger, President of the American Jewish World Service, Clive Lawton from the charity Tzedek and Dr. Mukesh Kapila, former head of the UN mission in Sudan.

The event was supported by the Pears Foundation who issued a booklet outlining the background to this first genocide of the 21st century. Their Executive Chair, Trevor Pears wrote this introduction:

Since 2003, the government of Sudan and their proxy militia, the Janjaweed, ( roughly translated means Devils on Horseback) have been waging a genocidal campaign against black African tribes in Darfur, western Sudan. Up to four hundred thousand men, women and children have died. A further two million people have fled their homes, with 200,000 living in refugee camps in Chad and the remaining languishing in camps for internally displaced persons in Darfur.
Trevor Pears' introduction went on to outline how Jewish communities could respond.

In the audience there were members of the Darfurian community in London. One of their members thanked the Jewish community for raising awareness and the state of Israel for managing to provide refuge for many of his people.

These facts were mentioned:

1. The British Government is considering repatriating asylum-seekers of Darfurian background back to Khartoum, the Sudanese capital.

2. The Sudanese air-force paints some of its aircraft in UN livery. Then uses the same aircraft to attack civilians.

3. Pressure should be placed on the Chinese government who purchase oil from Sudan. 70% of the income derived from this trade is spent on arms.

All who attended were urged to write to their MP's. Can I ask the same of UK bloggers? Here's a sample letter:


I am writing to you as a matter of urgency regarding the situation in Darfur. As you will be aware there has been a wave of violence over the past four years against those of black African
descent living in the area. Cautious estimates are that 200,000 have been murdered, although many humanitarian and campaign organisations suggest it is more likely that 400,000 people have been killed, with violence, gang rapes and forced displacement also taking place.

Whilst I support Tony Blair's recent staement that there is a need for a "no-fly zone" over Sudan, these words must be coupled with action. The no fly zone must be pushed at the United Nations, alongside the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force along the Chad-Darfur border. Statements are of no use to the vulnerable people of Darfur unless they are turned into a reality.

Additionally, I ask you to address the situation in the UK of detaining and deporting of asylum seekers back to to Khartoum. Not only does this put individuals in huge danger but sending asylum seekers back to Khartoum, the capital city from where the government-backed violent regime is organised, sends a message to the Sudanese government that the UK does not recognise the gravity of the situation in Darfur. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has recommended that it is too dangerous to deport Darfuri asylum seekers back to Sudan. I urge you to challenge this policy of the Home Office immediately.


Anonymous said...

This is such a tragic situation, and one I have highlighted too. You must do what you feel you can to make a difference Jeremy.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

You have done well to highlight it, Jeremy. If I were in Britain , I would send your letter. I will translate it into Italian and send it to my Euro-MP. [I know you hate the EU but that's the best I can do as I can only vote in Euro Parliament and local elections here.]

Jeremy Jacobs said...

OK but European countries and the EU have done little to alleviate the suffering in Darfur.

Theo Spark said...

Ellee try nuking Khatoum for a start.