World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis in Somalia: So U.S. Sends in the Marines and Drones

13 July 2011 — Black Agenda Report

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

A U.S. Marine task force is about to be deployed in the war against Somalia, where American drones are stepping up their predations. For the second time in four years, U.S. aggression threatens the lives of multitudes in the Horn of Africa. ‘A United Nations spokesman describes the food and refugee emergency in Somalia as the ‘worst humanitarian crisis in the world,’ with millions at immediate risk. Continue reading

Is There a Save Darfur Industrial Complex? By Bruce Dixon

6 May 6, 2009 : Bruce Dixon

African tragedies, observed Ugandan scholar and Columbia University professor Mahmood Mamdani in a March 20 presentation at Howard University, usually occur in the dead of night, outside the sight, concern or hearing of the Western public. The exception to this, he noted, has been Darfur. No armchair observer, Mamdani has traveled and worked extensively in Darfur as a consultant to the African Union in its attempts to peacefully resolve the conflict there.

Mamdani called Save Darfur ‘the most successful piece of single issue organizing since the Vietnam era antiwar movement, really more successful than the antiwar movement.’ But Save Darfur, with slogans like ‘boots on the ground,’ ‘out of Iraq, into Darfur’ and persistent demands for the creation of ‘no fly zones’ is far from being an antiwar movement.

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Congo Ignored, Not Forgotten – When 5 million dead aren’t worth two stories a year By Julie Hollar

Extra! May 2009

The wars that have wracked the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1996, killing well over 5 million people (International Rescue Committee, 1/08) in what may be the deadliest conflict since World War II, are officially over. A peace agreement was signed in 2002, and general elections were held in 2006.

But conflict and the humanitarian crisis continue. The most recent survey (IRC, 1/08) estimated that 45,000 people are dying each month from conflict-related causes (primarily hunger and disease), nearly the same shocking rate as during the war itself. And with the recent flare-up of violence in Congo’s volatile east, things don’t seem to be getting any better.

To put the death rate in perspective, at the peak of the Darfur crisis, the conflict-related death rate there was less than a third of the Congo’s, and by 2005 it had dropped to less than 4,000 per month (CRED, 5/26/05). The United Nations has estimated some 300,000 may have died in total as a result of the years of conflict in Darfur (CRED, 4/24/08,, 3/25/09); the same number die from the Congo conflict every six and a half months.

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Sudan: Alex de Waal, "Saviors and Survivors"


Mahmood Mamdani’s Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror is the most ambitious book yet on the Darfur crisis. Unlike the vast majority of other writing on the crisis, which is political science, human rights, or ethnographic narrative, specific to the Darfurian or the Sudanese situation, Mamdani places Darfur in deep and broad world-historical contexts.

The historical account is deep in that Mamdani sees the Darfur war less as the outcome of the immediate political grievances of Darfurians and the Sudan Government’s specific objectives, but rather as the product of long encounter between the colonial and neo-colonial powers and Africa. His account describes how under the independent Sultanate, Darfurian society was adopting administrative and social structures that transcended and down-played ethnic identities, but the colonial encounter — brief but profound — created administrative tribalism and a racial hierarchy. Mamdani argues that the legacy of this intrusion and distortion, as it played out especially in the system of land ownership based on tribally-owned dars, can be seen in the recurrent internal wars in Darfur from 1987 to 1999 and the wider war that erupted in 2003.

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4 March, 2009

I recently received a phone call from an Australian man who identified himself as an investigator for the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague, Netherlands. The investigator and his colleague had read my story, ‘Merchant’s of Death: Exposing Corporate Financed Holocaust in Africa,’ and they wanted my cooperation to provide more detailed evidence about the warlords behind the massacres at Bogoro, Congo, described briefly in my story.

After some weeks of back and forth discussions and me revisiting notes and photos to see what I had, I sent them an email at the definitive moment, when they were hoping to receive a brief ‘dossier’ about the specific case—which they said ‘had generated a lot of interest’ at the ICC—and I shared my uncertainty about the ethics of collaborating with an ‘International Criminal Court’ that was only indicting black Africans. I indicated my concern for the witness ‘Sandrine’, a young girl discussed in my story who named names of commanders, dates of executions, and who herself used a machete in an ethnic massacre and was raped by militiamen. I noted that witnesses identified for the Rwandan Tribunal (ICTR) had been murdered or mysteriously disappeared, and noted my awareness of the injustice of the Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the disconcerting trajectory of the ICC.

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Sudan/Darfur is Test Case for Obama’s “Humanitarian” Aggression By Glen Ford

“Obama has not broken the American mold, but rather, appears to be fine-tuning a ‘humanitarian’ interventionist doctrine.”

Any government in the world that believes it has been targeted for regime change by the United States and its allies would be foolish to allow western-based nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to operate freely in its territory. When Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir evicted 13 western NGOs from his country last month, he was responding quite rationally to the clear threat of so-called “humanitarian” military intervention by the U.S. under the pretext of “rescuing” Sudanese in the war-torn Darfur region.

Under the Obama administration, a military interventionist doctrine is rapidly crystallizing around the concept of “Responsibility to Protect,” or R2P, which holds that nations have a responsibility to forcibly intervene when a state is judged to be unwilling or unable to protect or otherwise fulfill its responsibilities to its people – responsibilities that can be broadly or narrowly defined. United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice and Samantha Power, a member of Obama’s National Security Council, are leading advocates of a broad and unilateralist interpretation of R2P. Both are very close to President Obama, and can be assumed to reflect his thinking on foreign policy. And both are implacably hostile to Omar Al-Bashir’s government in Sudan. Rice is eager to blockade Sudan’s ports and to launch “selective” bombing raids.

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Middle East Report Online: The Hazy Path Forward in Sudan by Sarah Washburne

24 March, 2009

[Sarah Washburne is a doctoral student at the University of Exeter. She contributed this article from Khartoum.]

For another view on the ICC decision, see Khalid Mustafa Medani, ‘Wanted: Omar al-Bashir — and Peace in Sudan,’ Middle East Report Online, March 5, 2009.

On the day after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, the wanted man addressed a pre-planned rally of thousands in front of the presidential palace in Khartoum. Bashir was defiant, denouncing the warrant as ‘neo-colonialism,’ and praising his supporters in Martyrs’ Square as ‘grandsons of the mujahideen,’ a reference to the participants in the Mahdiyya uprising against Anglo-Egyptian rule in 1885. The atmosphere was almost one of jubilation; one might have mistaken the crowds for soccer fans celebrating a win. As Bashir condemned the ICC and the West from the microphone, the protesters waved the Sudanese flag and held aloft pictures of Bashir, as well as posters depicting the face of Luis Moreno Ocampo, the ICC prosecutor, superimposed upon the body of a pig. There were sporadic outbreaks of drumming, dancing and singing.

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Depoliticising Death By William Bowles

9 August 2004

Today’s (9/8/04) Independent has the headline:

“A race against time
“Darfur is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Read the statistics, and then find out how to help”

With of course, the obligatory photograph of an emaciated baby, followed by the also obligatory round-up of ‘statistics’ on the plight of the Sudanese. Strange that the “race against time” is a story that has been on-going for the past twenty years, so why the sudden ‘concern’ for the Sudanese when the media has all but ignored the story for the past two decades? And what makes it the ‘world’s worst humanitarian crisis’?

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