Save Chad!


My significant other is a teacher and is not involved in policy work. As a concerned citizen, she bought a Save Darfur t-shirt and wears it occasionally. One night last month, she wore her shirt out to a gathering of my friends, most of whom work in political and environmental nonprofits and businesses.
A couple of these friends had a strange reaction: they giggled, as if to say “oh, Save Darfur? I didn’t get the memo.” This reaction wasn’t intended maliciously, but it illustrates how big an issue Darfur has become and how “trendy” it seems in some quarters, especially among people who work on very un-sexy issues.
Personally, I couldn’t be happier that this humanitarian crisis has generated such broad concern. Since it was labeled the first genocide of the 21st century, the situation in Darfur has united people across the political spectrum. I’m very pleased that the Save Darfur Coalition, of which my organization is an Executive Committee member, has succeeded so greatly in branding the issue. The word “Darfur” immediately gets the attention of Members of Congress and arouses much sympathy and passion in citizens across the country. Plus, Americans of all political stripes agree on the basic solution: stop the atrocities and hold the perpetrators accountable.
The downside to this branding is that it can be misleading. After all, a good part of the “Darfur” violence isn’t taking place in Darfur anymore. It’s happening in Eastern Chad.
Chad is now home to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons and Sudanese refugees. And a quick glance at the Darfur/Chad web site for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees makes it abundantly clear that Chad is the focal point of humanitarian work right now in the region.
Yesterday, it was reported that Janjaweed militias massacred approximately 400 people in Chad on March 31. To call for intervention in Sudan without mentioning Chad or the Central African Republic, where violence is also picking up, is to commit a grievous sin of omission.
Please, if you own Save Darfur paraphernalia , keep wearing it! But if you do, or if you see it on someone else, know this: the “Darfur atrocities” aren’t just about Darfur anymore.
— Scott Paul


18 comments on “Save Chad!

  1. Cee says:

    Until we talk about people who profit from smuggling weapons, nothing will change.
    Years ago I read that weapons were smuggled into Sudan from Chad.


  2. Jacob Matthan says:

    Steve, what is the meaning of genocide?
    As john sonner wrote:
    “Sad as the situation in Darfur is, the toll in Iraq is worse: UNHCR reports 4 million refugees vs. 2.5 million in Darfur; 655,000 killed in Iraq (dated Lancet data) vs. 400,000 in Darfur. And the US government (and by extension American taxpayers) is directly responsible for what happened in Iraq.”
    But because it is carried out by the US and its criminal allies – it does not get rated as “genocide”?
    The rest of the world judges US as the mass killer rogue nation.
    If Bush had not been “re-elected” one could give the US citizens a pass on this one. But, whatever your election system, the re-election got every US citizen labelled as a complicit war criminal.


  3. steambomb says:

    I think we had better save America first. Otherwise the world may never trust us again.


  4. Pissed Off American says:

    If human misery does not provide a springboard to profits, than this Administration will ignore it. Unfortunately, the same can be said for the Dems, should they manage to slime their way into the Oval Office after Bush/Cheney slither out the back door.
    One thing is for sure, if we citizens do not get these bastards back under control, and once again acting as actual Representatives, than this nation is not going to be in any shape to help anyone. It is far past the time for civil unrest.


  5. Killer Whale says:

    Maybe it is just me, but it seems like this would be a tough enough situation with a competent and engaged administration. It just seems impossible to deal with meaningfully given the current administration. I just left the “Think Progress” site and there is a new post regarding “the White House losing RNC emails.”
    This, on top of all of the other scandals and the mismanaging of “this and that.” What leadership can they possibly lend to this – assuming they even wanted to?
    Any ideas on what can be done to help with this?With, of course, the assumption that the White house will not be meaningfully involved?


  6. janinsanfran says:

    The Darfur mobilization has always felt a little off to me. I thought about it a lot and wrote a piece here that tries to capture what I think makes me feel that way.
    Meanwhile people are dying.


  7. ... says:

    how much is darfur about control of oil? talisman oil, a canadian company is located in some of the hot spots.. i remember studying this a few years ago and was disturbed at the findings and on who was supporting the 2 sides militarily. someone said it is racist.. i don’t know about that. i think it has to do with resources and who gets to control and have them.


  8. Marky says:

    Remember Werner Erhards’ “Hunger Project”? He was going to eliminate world hunger by the year 2000 using the power of positive thinking—at least that’s the only element I discerned. I don’t like the t-shirts, personally. Another thing that bothers me is that Bush repeatedly seems to get credit for the simple act of talking about Darfur, and what a grave serious crisis it is, and somebody should do something. Genocide as a method of generating positive PR for those that condemn it is certainly a novel, though repulsive aspect of this crisis.
    It’s probably horrible of me to say this, but I haven’t paid much attention to Darfur because I know that Bush will at worst block efforts towards a solution, or at best hinder them by his “diplomacy”. With Bush as President, I know that my country will stand idle as genocide occurs. I can’t do anything about it. Those lost lives and lost opportunities for action are just another cost of the Bush Presidency. The only shocking thing to me is that Newt Gingrich hasn’t blamed the fate of the Darfur refugees on the fact that they speak a “ghetto language”. I’m sure that’s just an omission on his part.


  9. Zathras says:

    The first sentence of Scott’s third paragraph here is very poorly phrased.
    I don’t think this was intentional at all, but the reason Darfur has generated such “broad concern” among citizens and NGOs in this country now, in the spring of 2007, is that nothing effectual has been done about the genocide there that began fully four years ago (I except here activities by humanitarian organizations on the ground, which began long before Darfur became a fashionable cause and which have lately been badly attentuated because of the security situation in Darfur). The concern may indeed be broad, but it has also, objectively, accomplished nothing.


  10. JohnH says:

    Sad as the situation in Darfur is, the toll in Iraq is worse: UNHCR reports 4 million refugees vs. 2.5 million in Darfur; 655,000 killed in Iraq (dated Lancet data) vs. 400,000 in Darfur. And the US government (and by extension American taxpayers) is directly responsible for what happened in Iraq.


  11. john somer says:

    What is never mentioned is that the Darfur killings are racist. Arabs killing blacks in Western Sudan as they were doing pre39viously in Southern Sudan


  12. Carroll says:

    Darfur has been going on so long it’s like living with managed cancer. The only reason I can think that nothing has been done is because it’s Africans and there is this attitude that nothing will ever change for them. Although most are familiar with “Darfur”..they really have no idea of the exact horror of what is going on.
    I think you need better T-shirts than just “Save Darfur” if you want to impress the general population. Maybe you need to switch to one that says..The World’s Second Holocuast is Happening Right Now..Do you Care This Time?


  13. Willem van Oranje says:

    For anybody familiar with Google Earth. Google Earth has a layer called “Global Awareness”. It has only a few sublayers yet, one of them is a project from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum called “USHMM: Crisis in Darfur”.
    From the Website of the USHMM:
    “The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has joined with Google in an unprecedented online mapping initiative. Crisis in Darfur enables more than 200 million Google Earth users worldwide to visualize and better understand the genocide currently unfolding in Darfur, Sudan. The Museum has assembled content—photographs, data, and eyewitness testimony—from a number of sources that are brought together for the first time in Google Earth.”
    Follow the directions on the website. It’s truly harrowing


  14. Marcia says:

    This could relate to your previous post. These groups never lack weapons. There is an unending supply of weapons around the world – the poorest countries in Africa are flooded with arms.
    All the Western industrial countries are suppliers, as is Russia and probably China, though I have seen little information on their position.
    These countries lack food, housing, water but possess huge stocks of weaponery. No one ever suggests cutting off the faucet. We all know why.


  15. Scott Paul says:

    True enough, Tarek. It’s the issue that’s being branded (good), not the violence or the victims (bad).


  16. Tarek says:

    Scott: To me it’s almost cavalier (and not intentional, I’m sure) to characterize the work of Save Darfur and a lot of the other organizations working to end the genocide as “branding” the violence. Just the other day, I was thinking that in my childhood, I had a shorthand visual cue that stood in for anything about Africa. It was the distended-belly, flies-in-the-eyes images of victims of the famine in Ethiopia. The cause, meaning, impact and remedy for the famine were lost, but that big-eyed little boy was the brand of hunger. I don’t recall ever giving money to the causes affiliated with those images. Today, especially in a policy-environment desperately needing actual answers about what we can do in Darfur (and in the camps in Chad), I’m afraid that the colorfully-dressed, traumatized-but-persevering displaced women in the refugee camps of Chad are the new Africa go-to image. They have been, as you note, branded as the face of the genocide. I don’t believe this is a good development. Indeed, I would argue that any human rights disaster allowed to endure long enough to become a brand should only serve to shame our media culture.


  17. Scott Paul says:

    David, thanks for pointing that out. I’m making the change now.


  18. David says:

    Thanks Scott.
    “Yesterday, Janjaweed militias massacred approximately 400 people in Chad. ”
    really should be
    “Yesterday it was reported that the Janjaweed militias massacred up to 400 people in Chad.”
    The attacks took place March 31st. Horrible


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