OPINION

We can help solve the crisis in Darfur

« How could anyone shoot a 2-year-old girl in the throat? How could anyone do this intentionally? This is a horror. I can’t find any other word to describe it, it is a horror.» These words were spoken by Jan Engeland, the United Nations’ top humanitarian affairs coordinator who visited a hospital in the town of El Genina, West Darfur, just a few days ago to visit the injured girl mentioned above. To date, more than 200,000 people have lost their lives in this impoverished region of Sudan, while millions of others have been obliged to live in squalid conditions, far from their homes, in refugee camps. The hair-raising testimonies of this ongoing nightmare are almost endless: Pregnant women are raped, children are subjected to sexual abuse, youths are recruited into hate squads. Human decency is buried in makeshift graves along with people slaughtered or killed by hunger and disease. Meanwhile, the international community, which has displayed much greater sensitivity and decisive action in the face of crises far less extreme than the situation in Darfur, simply sits by and observes. It recognizes that a humanitarian crisis of massive proportions is under way in this region of sub-Saharan Africa. It analyzes this crisis – and it does nothing. Powerful institutions such as the European Union, the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference appear to have united in an unspoken alliance to abstain from humanitarian initiatives that could end this nightmare. There has been debate about the issue in Greece which, apart from anything else, has sound knowledge of the parameters of this problem, having presided over the UN Security Council’s special committee for Sudan for the past two years. Tireless diplomatic efforts recently led to Greece organizing the first debate about the Middle East crisis by the foreign ministers of the UN Security Council. We managed to succeed in this extremely difficult area and preside over the first summit of its kind in two decades. Staging an international summit aimed at tackling the crisis in Darfur should be equally doable. The life, the dignity and physical integrity of the children living in Darfur today deserve our attention no less than the children of Palestine and Iraq. If our country really wants to, it can highlight this, thus revealing that it does not want to remain fenced in by narrow concerns, oblivious to the chaos raging beyond its borders.