Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The attacks are not stopping.

More than two years have passed since Darfur's rebel groups first began fighting, and government troops and Janjaweed militia responded by fiercely attacking villages and civilians - but the scenes of horror continue in many parts of Darfur.

In Gereida/Tulus locality, dozens of villages have been destroyed and burnt to the ground over the past two weeks, with the desperate survivors fleeing to the safety of the camps. The UN has now reported more than 10,000 new arrivals in the Gereida area and - with daily reports of new attacks still flooding in - this number could well rise.

Not only is it acutely disturbing to hear locals tell you that 50, 60 or 70 people have been killed today - there are also concerns that the insecurity is still preventing humanitarian agencies from assisting victims with food, water and shelter. Two-thirds of South Darfur are still considered too unsafe for travel and it's scary to think what the situation is like in the parts we are not reaching.

In a shouting match with a Darfurian government official earlier this week, US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick was treated to a sublime display of the Sudanese government's complete disregard for establishing what is really happening in this ugly and intensely complicated conflict.

Unlike the US government official, the people in the villages did not have the opportunity to shout back at those who were threatening them. And while it may seem naive, I suppose I'm still somewhat hopeful that this most recent visit to Darfur will give Mr. Zoellick some incentive to do it for them.

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