Save Darfur Goes to Darfur

Jerry Fowler, the soon-to-depart head of the Save Darfur Coalition, thinks I have been unfair to his campaign. His point is that I have misrepresented its case and have based my criticism on things they used to say, years ago. All of which strikes me as a little unfair when his press releases carry the following message…

About Save Darfur Coalition: The Save Darfur Coalition – an alliance of more than 180 faith-based, advocacy and human rights organizations – raises public awareness about the ongoing genocide in Darfur and mobilizes a unified response to the atrocities that threaten the lives of people throughout the Darfur region.

Anyone who has been to Darfur knows this is arrant nonsense. There are lots of bad things going on, but I have seen no evidence of an “ongoing genocide”. Even “atrocities” seems to misrepresent the prosaic, daily drip-drip-drip of death. The good news is that Jerry Fowler has now actually been to Darfur and, erm, this is what he found…

…an uneasy situation – “neither peace, nor war,” we heard a number of times. From IDPs we consistently heard expressions of fear and a pervading sense of insecurity. Clashes between the government and rebels are happening in some areas, but such organized fighting is not widespread. Nor is there systematic violence against civilians. But neither is there a sense of stability, security or peace. Quite simply, nothing is resolved. And a large portion of the civilian population remains extremely vulnerable.

Guess what? Things are quite so clear as they seem from thousands of miles away. Not even “systematic violence against civilians”. Over at Brains Like a Shoe, Sean Brooks has a similar revelation…

For now, I can say that having visited Khartoum, the three capitals of Darfur and Juba, one cannot help but be struck by the depth of complexity to the immediate crises and issues at hand.

So does this mean an end to the apocalyptic, over-simplified language favoured by the self-appointed saviours of Darfur that has done so much to prevent progress? Let’s hope so. And maybe they’ll be more receptive to the argument I make in Saving Darfur. Anyway, I for one will be watching to see how Save Darfur’s position develops.

9 thoughts on “Save Darfur Goes to Darfur

  1. The book, Saviors and Survivors, by Columbia U. prof Mahmood Mamdani, is also slams Save Darfur Coalition for not being in touch with realities on the ground. Raising money becomes its own end, not a means, perhaps.

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