Sigh of relief on behalf of Mrs Gibbons as she returns to the UK relatively unharmed. If I may put the tin foil hat on for a second, I’d suggest that there was a brief moratorium of criticism of the Sudanese government by the British press during negotiations for Mrs Gibbon’s safety and release. Now that she’s back, the gloves can come back off, and we can remind ourselves just how bad things are in Darfur1. As accusations fly about whose fault it was that the teddy bear affair was blown out of proportion, we should take stock of the potentially positive developments. The spotlight has been turned once again to the lack of cooperation of the government in Sudan for a peacekeeper presence. Ten days before the teddy bear affair surfaced, the UN was making pessimistic noises about the feasibility of the joint African Union (AU)–UN peacekeeping force being demanded by the governors of Sudan. And as is often said, fresh fighting has broken out in Chad2.
As with all these things, you’re left feeling numbed and helpless. Aside from getting all ones friends on Facebook crackshot lessons and heading over to the Darfur/Chad border, there’s SFA one person can do. Campaigns such as the Save Darfur and Fund4Darfur will not get the SLAs, Jems and janjaweeds to sit down at a table to negotiate a new ceasefire. And I even doubt their ability to get aid to Darfur if even large aid agencies like Oxfam are finding things tough. What will help is to put sufficient pressure on the Sudanese government to stop objecting to a minority of non-African UN peacekeepers so the AU-UN alliance can start to do their job. So that all the aid agencies can get in and do their jobs safely. In the meanwhile, time to cough up the money. Give it to whoever you want. I prefer Oxfam, MSF and the Red Cross, mainly because they’re already there. Those will also be going on the X-word wish list.
And please, let’s not involve the US government this time. They and their friends have done enough for world peace this decade already.
Update: If you’re wanting to get something back for your money apart from that warm glow, why not buy the Causes 1 CD and know that all proceeds will be off to MSF (Doctors Without Borders), Human Rights Watch and Oxfam America.
1 And Chad. Shouldn’t forget Chad, though not of the hanging variety.
2 Just out of curiosity, how fresh must the fighting be to be classified as such? Is it stale if it’s sat on the countertop for a week?