Collaboration: Help or Headache?

Guest post by Elham Bidgoli

When we first started the UofT chapter, we jumped at any opportunity to collaborate with other student groups. Amnesty? We'd love to help with your bake sale. International Health Program? We want a table at your conference. Bollywood Association? We've always dreamed of working with you.

When you are new and unknown on campus, especially one as vast as UofT, collaboration opens up tons of opportunities. It can mean sharing in resources you otherwise would not have access to, and meeting lots of new people with whom you can share your message. It can open up new avenues of ideas for creating a buzz around campus. But as I've learned over time, it can also mean one huge headache after another. Here are my three tips on when collaboration can cause more hassle than opportunity.

1. Wanting World Peace is Not Common Ground
As advocates against genocide, we often feel that every advocacy, humanitarian and awareness organization is in line with our policies. After all, who doesn't want genocide to stop? None of our chapters have had to deal with any pro-genocide groups on campus. The problem, however, lies in the word genocide. Collaboration with other groups on genocide awareness can often result in a down spiral where the use of the word is debated in its use for other crimes against humanity. This can detract from the efforts of your chapter to raise awareness about Darfur.

How can you avoid being overshadowed by controversy without giving up opportunity? One way around it is to participate in a multiple day initiative where your event is separate from other groups. This way you benefit from the promotion and collaboration, but avoid the negative press.

2. Kittens have nothing to do with genocide
As I mentioned, it is tempting to work with every group out there. But it is important to also keep your audience - and the message that you are trying to send - in mind. Yes, the Association for Cruelty Against Kittens also speaks out against unnecessary violence, but are they really related to your cause? More importantly, will people intuitively see the connection at the event, or will they leave scratching their heads? It's important to keep your message as clear as possible, and the groups you choose to work with are a part of your message.

3. Step Up or Step Out

When Stand UofT was approached to collaborate with ten other groups on genocide awareness week a few years ago, we entered into it thinking it involved minimal effort on our part. A little promotion here, hosting a small speaking event there, all for the opportunity to participate in a huge event. The problem is that all the groups had come together with the same intention, and no one was in charge. It was chaos until the current Stand leader at the time took over and clearly outlined who was doing what. Clearly, this kind of responsibility was not what we signed up for. If you're not prepared or willing to take over, it may not be worth your team's time and effort to get involved.

These tips are based on my own experiences. What are your experiences with collaboration? How do you approach working with other groups? Leave a comment and let us know!
Continue reading this article...

Want to help stop a genocide? Make it easy.


You are in a crowded room near home surrounded by your mother, father, aunt and uncle, their kids and some close friends. The doors are locked. You hear men's voices outside. You know that they have guns. You are scared and wonder, “what is going to happen to me?” Now, you hear banging on the door. You have no delusions about their intentions: they are here to kill you.

The reason? It’s nothing you did. It’s just because of who you are.

You are waiting, hoping, praying for somebody to protect you.

You wish you could call 9-1-1. But this is Darfur. Here, twice the population of Toronto don't have anyone to call. They face almost certain death, rape, or the loss of an eye or an arm. Many Darfuri men, women, and children hoped for help, but it never came. Like the Armenians in 1910s, Jews during the Holocaust, Cambodians in 1970s, Rwandans and victims of Srebrenica in 1990s they have been left alone.

The results have been devastating.

"The story of the eldest girl who was sent to get needed firewood for her mother and young brother, but was raped", "The story of the young boy who awoke in his hut to the roar of engines, only to look outside and see family and friends running from bombs and armed men on horseback" and "The story of the woman hearing 'now your babies will be Arab' as she's being violated" are a stories that paint a picture of life as a victim of genocide.

These stories are maddening. The images of these people's experiences sear into our minds. If you believe, as I do, that no man or woman should be a target simply because of his or her ethnicity, that every children born into this world should never have to see men on horseback rape their mother and kill their father, that no person should ever be victim of genocide sixty years after the “lesson” of the Holocaust, then these actions are an affront to your beliefs.

These attacks against your entire worldview, stir your emotions. You feel, as I do, sadness, fear, rage and most importantly an urgency to "do something" about it.

But – unfortunately for victims – too often, our outrage is followed by a sense of helplessness. I experienced this four years ago. I was riled after reading a story in the New York times about a woman who was told 'now your babies will be impure' while being raped. But I was stuck.

"What can I do? This is a genocide – the crime of all crimes. This is happening so far away. The situation seems so complicated. The names of key players are hardly pronounceable. "

“Yes,” we say, “people are dying. But it is so big and so far away. I have to work today and pay my bills. What can one person actually do?”

We all get stuck.

This is the true challenge that the world faces with Darfur: how can we, the mass of people who care about Darfur, overcome the set of obstacles that prevent each one of us from acting to end genocide in Darfur?

Collectively, we have the manpower, will, influence, and money to end the crisis. We have put a man on the moon, ended cold wars, defeated fascism in Europe, and freed millions from apartheid in South Africa, and so too we can end a genocide. But feelings of apathy and powerlessness, a lack of information and motivation prevent us from tapping our world-changing potential.

Enter Stand. The job of each of our volunteers, supporters, and allies: make it easy to act against genocide. Make it easy to overcome the challenges - one by one – to help each person that feels "I must do something about Darfur". Help them take action.

If it isn’t easy for you to make your difference for Darfur, we’ll make it so.

Feel powerless to make a difference?

We are there to tell you that you can. The Stand volunteer on your campus will tell you stories to convince you so. We will share stories of meeting the Prime Minister, of Canada sending 100 armoured personnel carriers to protect those protecting civilians, of students traveling to Darfur with Members of Parliament to forever make them allies in our fight. You can make a difference.

Don't know where to start?

A Stand volunteer can show you how easy it is to begin to make a difference. You can start by meeting like-minded friends in your community through Stand - in-person or online. You can work on a project of significance to Darfur: plan a rally to put Darfur's story in the headlines, invite your Member of Parliament to meet your group, create a calendar to raise money for the cause. Thousands of people have attended hundreds of events put on by dozens of groups from communities across Canada. The net impact is obvious: each new voice can inspire an action for the cause. Each action may be the one to tip the scale towards life for a Darfuri teetering on the brink. You can have impact with Stand.

Don't have the time?

Everybody has three minutes to act against genocide. Call 1-800-GENOCID(E). Get talking points about what Canada can do for Darfur. And leave a message for the Prime Minister. Each call to 1-800-GENOCIDE moves Darfur up the list of issues important to the Prime Minister. One high school in Toronto called the Prime Minister’s office so many times in one day, that the Office called the principal of the school and asked students to stop calling. Thankfully, the principal told them no. That day, the Prime Minister noticed Darfur. A few minutes can make a difference for Darfur.

Want to call your MP right now but don't know what to say?

Read Stand's Darfur Digest. Just by glancing at the executive summary, you can know more about Darfur than 95% of MPs and have the confidence to voice your opinion about what's right for Canada to do to prevent on-going genocide in Darfur. It is read by high school students and national not-for-profit CEOs, and everybody in between. A few minutes can make you an effective advocate.

Consider a world without Stand and its allies. People read about Darfur. We are "educated" about it. We care, but our engagement stops there. The world would exist with a massive gap: a body of people who need help in Darfur, and a mass of people who care about Darfur but feel helpless. In that world, millions fall victim to genocide in Darfur, and the next Darfur in Asia, or South America or Africa. The idea "never again" dies along with the hope of a generation.

Stand bridges that gap, making it easy for those caring people to act against genocide in Darfur and wherever else it may next appear.

Back to that crowded room with armed men pounding at the door. Darfuris don't have 9-1-1. But we have 1-800-GENOCIDE. Let's keep calling on their behalf until we create a world free of genocide.

Ben Fine
Volunteer, Founder
Continue reading this article...

Pursuing a world without genocide

It has been four years since one moment changed my life.

Acol Dor, a Sudanese refugee, stunned an audience of 200 young people with her story of Darfur. As the crowd sat silenced, one student stood up and said "I think we all agree. We need to do something about this." That was the flap of the butterfly's wing that started the hurricane that is Stand and Canada's Darfur advocacy movement.

This blog had been used for a number of purposes so far: discussing policy ideas, sharing analysis of Darfur, reporting on Darfur news, reporting on Stand’s successes. But I want to add something new and important: telling the stories of the Darfur advocacy movement. I will be clear about my intent: I want more people to hear our story. I want more people to be inspired to join us. I want more people to see that they are not alone in their convictions and can stand with us. I want young people already volunteering with Stand to feel apart of something greater, and to have the confidence to know that I - and thousands of others - are supporting their work.

The tone of these blogs may exude an aura of importance. Don't be turned off. The reason is simple: fighting to end genocide is important. It is too great an ill in this world. After 4 years of Darfur advocacy we must be ready to declare: we are not satisfied just planning "events"; this cause is important enough to demand that we fight until genocide never happens again.

And I want to hear from you. We will have differences. Let us learn from them. Consider your challenges to these ideas a benefit for Darfuris in our important mission.

In my first blog, I will take on a modest task: tell the story - as I see it - of what we all need to do to help stop a genocide. Read on.

Ben Fine
Volunteer, Founder
Stand Canada
Continue reading this article...

Back From Sudan - Anne Wagner

I'm sorry to have been so derelict in my blogging duties of late, but luckily there are many Stand'ers out there doing really interesting, inspiring things to cover for me. The blog post below was written by Anne Wagner, a Stand leader who just returned from her second trip to Sudan. Anne is consistently one of the loudest voices for action in Darfur and has accompanied Members of Parliament to the region to see first hand the results of the genocide. She has found that visiting Sudan turns MPs into stronger advocates and supporters of Stand's message.

If you would like to hear more about her trip, you should stop by the South Dining Hall of Hart House at the University of Toronto at 7 PM on Monday, January 26th.

I returned from Sudan last week – an inspiring journey that motivates me to continue advocating for change in Darfur and strengthen Canadian policy on genocide.

I interviewed Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), tribal leaders and camp administrators. Notably, I was also very fortunate to track down some of the people I interviewed last year. Here is Amou's story:

Last year, I interviewed Amou as she was surrounded by her six children. Two of her children, infant twins, did not look strong enough to survive. Amou described to me the atrocities she had survived—her husband was killed in Darfur, and she had to lead her children here to the camp, where they did not have shelter, or enough food or water.

Twelve months later, I ran into Amou again during my first walk around the camp. At first, she was shy to talk to me, but her face lit up as soon as I asked her about her children. She was amazed I remembered she had six. I was surprised and thrilled to find out all of her children were still alive. The resilience of the people in the camp, who found enough food, water and shelter to sustain Amou's family, had ensured the survival of these children through the harshest of conditions.

The people in the camp witnessed nearby floods that ruined crops; they received very little aid and an influx of new residents. They are still surviving. I told Amou that I had been showing the picture of her and her children back in Canada, and was explaining to people what I had seen in the camp. She asked me what I planned to do this year.

What do we plan to do this year? This is where you can help me, Stand supporters! What will Stand tell Amou and her children next year?

Continue reading this article...

Never Again....Again

Stand'er Josh Scheinert has an opinion piece in the Canadian Jewish News that is a must-read. The Stand blog has it in all its glory. Thanks, Josh, for spreading the word!


The history of genocide is a Jewish one in every sense of the word. The Holocaust was a seminal event in modern history that made the world confront its horror.

Less known, however, is the story of Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-Jewish lawyer and anti-genocide crusader. The term genocide never existed until it was coined by Lemkin, who managed to escape the Holocaust to America. He created the word by combining geno, the Greek word for race, and cide, the Latin word for killing. His efforts led to the 1948 Genocide Convention, making the act of genocide illegal, everywhere.

Lemkin's crusade was an effort to make sure that the Holocaust was the last genocide. To use Elie Weisel's phrase, it was, "So that my past does not have to be someone's future."

Oh, how we have failed them.

Genocide is the world's problem. No nation or people can turn away from it. But more so than for anyone else, genocide is a problem for Jews.

We bear the unfortunate burden of being the reason for the vow "Never again." With that burden comes a responsibility that we will never, like it or not, be able to shake. If there is genocide in the world, Jewish communities everywhere must be up in arms, working tirelessly to do what very few were willing to do for us.

Our track record so far is less than laudable. We failed in Cambodia, and two million people died. In Srebenica, we failed as 8,000 Bosnian Muslim boys and men were murdered in a United Nations safe zone. The death of 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis was another mark of shame upon our vow.

What would Lemkin say? What would our relatives, looking down on us, say?

Yes, you can say that Jews aren't the only ones who failed, and that would be true. But politics cannot factor into our excuses and cloud our morality. We've been cast in our role more firmly than others – not only is it moral, it's personal.

Jan. 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Jews and non-Jews around the world are supposed to gather and remember. We will recall how the world stood idly by as our parents and grandparents were gassed. In the end, we will have a moment of silence and vow the hypocritical vow, "Never again."

Just a few days later, in February, the world will mark the start of the sixth year of genocide in Sudan's Darfur region, making it, in length, a longer genocide than the Holocaust. And "Never again" will cement its transition to "Ever again."

How much longer does Darfur have to suffer before we get the electric shock needed to jolt us into action? I wrote a piece in this paper three years ago on this very subject. In an attempt to highlight the need for Jewish leadership on Darfur, I recalled the verse in Isaiah that says Jews must be a light unto the nations.

Lemkin helped brighten that light. We have played a role in extinguishing it.

Darfur's genocide has been happening for longer than the Holocaust – let me say it again: longer than the Holocaust – and it's been going on right before our eyes. The region is filled with harrowing tales of mass murder, rape and destruction that have targeted three ethnic groups – the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa. The number of victims is still growing.

Where are our rabbis crying out from our bimot? Why are our community federations, schools and agencies not sounding the alarm bells, organizing and rallying? Until our reaction stops being one of business as usual, with an occasional mention in a sermon or at a fundraising table, we will continue to fail as a community.

I don't want to be completely negative. I know we care and that there have been a few initiatives for Darfur that originated in our community.

Yet, until it can be asserted that efforts from Canada's Jews have translated into measurable improvement in the lives of Darfuris and helped accelerate and boost the inadequate efforts by our government to end the genocide, we have not done enough. Taking minimal action to placate our collective guilt as a community of genocide survivors is of no comfort to those in Darfur who are praying that they, too, will be a genocide survivor instead of a statistic.

There is a lot we can do, and I could list those things here. But first, before we even get to that stage, we have to want to do something. In six years of Darfur's genocide, we have not shown that we do.

In the Majdanek concentration camp there is a giant dome. Underneath it, in plain sight, are the ashes of tens of thousands of Jews. On top of the dome, there is an inscription that reads: "Let our fate be a warning to you."

For the past six years, we have squandered their warning. Oh, how we have failed them.

Josh Scheinert is a student at Osgoode Hall Law School and a past advocacy director of STAND Canada (Students Taking Action Now Darfur). To learn how you can help Darfur, visit, and

Continue reading this article...

The New Rice

Here are some Susan Rice quotes to get us all excited about Obama's inauguration, courtesy of the Save Darfur Coalition. (Susan Rice is the incoming US Ambassador to the United Nations)

The Bush administration has remonstrated for five years about the genocide in Darfur. Yet we have imposed only the mildest of sanctions, and we have given only lip service to standing up a [joint] African Union-United Nations force. The imperative has to be to pressure the regime to stop the killing, and to allow the A.U.-U.N. force to deploy effectively.”

[National Journal, July 12, 2008]

“There are only two ways to end a genocide: to apply powerful enough pressures or inducements to persuade the perpetrators of genocide to stop; or to protect those who are the potential victims of genocide. A negotiated solution would do neither, though it is necessary, ultimately, to resolve the underlying conflict.”

[Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, April 11, 2007]

“How can the administration explain to the dead, the nearly dead and the soon to be dead people of Darfur that, at the end of the day – even when we declare that genocide is occurring, even when we insist repeatedly that we are committed to stopping it – the United States has stood by for so long while the killing has persisted.”

[Testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, February 8, 2007]

Continue reading this article...

Memories of all-nighters and William Zartman...

Stand Director of Operations and all-around smart guy Yoni Levitan recently commented on one of my posts, saying that in his mind the situation in Darfur is just about "ripe" for resolution. If he had known how long I stayed up researching that concept for my thesis in senior year, he may have chosen different words. Ahhhh, coffee gut, sleepless nights, five minute dance breaks, how I miss it all!

Anyways, the point is that this guy I. William Zartman basically began the academic study of civil wars by suggesting that they only end when the time is "ripe for resolution." A civil war is considered ripe for resolution when both sides find themselves in a "mutually hurting stalemate": i.e. no one has the upper-hand, both sides feel that they have little to gain from continued violence, and both sides will continue to take losses if the situation remains the same. Since Zartman first suggested the idea, there have been lots of additions and elaborations to the theory, but it's still the same basic idea: international pressure to end a civil war will be most effective when the timing is right. Often the timing is right after some big event or change happens that makes both parties realize the pain and loss of continued fighting.

Other factors that affect the timing and effectiveness of a resolution would be:

- the role of outside actors
- the presence of spoilers (parties with nothing to gain and everything to lose from peace, e.g. warlords who gain power and money during war by hoarding valuable resources such as coltan or diamonds but would lose it all if peace allowed the government to establish legitimate trade avenues and businesses)
- the cohesion and unity of the negotiating parties.

I agree with Yoni in many ways. I believe the time is ripe for resolution right now for a number of reasons many of which he points out.

1. The government has recently realized that it can be painful to continue fighting, both because of the attack on the capital by the rebel Justice and Equality Movement last May and because of the possible arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court. In the beginning of November, President Bashir of Sudan declared a unilateral ceasefire and began offering some concessions to the rebel groups, a step in the right direction.

2. The impending arrival of the Obama Administration with Senator Clinton as Secretary of State and Susan Rice as top UN diplomat signals a new era in American foreign policy, including pledges of multilateralism and action against genocide. It's not clear how this team will react yet to the situation in Sudan, but it clearly presents an opportunity for a new approach.

3. There seems to be a concerted effort by both African and Arab leaders to convince President Bashir of the benefits of peace. This has not always been the case (especially on the part of Egypt) so it is welcome news. In particular, people are talking about the Qatari initiative, which seems to hold some very good ideas.

4. Oil prices are down, exposing the government to economic realities a bit more. China also seems to be taking less interest in protecting Sudan recently, possibly because of their own economic worries.

The key challenges?

1. Getting the rebels together. There are still numerous different groups in slight competition with each other, leaving no real negotiating partner. The Justice and Equality Movement and Sudanese Liberation Army led by Abdel Wahid al-Nur are the two major groups, but there are tons of other little ones. Many of them feel like their position can only get better from here so are not super-eager to negotiate, partly because of international criticism of the government. The key is to make sure that the most important ones who are capable of disrupting any peace process are included while the trouble-makers are ostracized.

2. Implementing and monitoring any agreements, including disarming Janjawiid and other militias. There are so many disparate and rogue elements within the region of Darfur now that it is hard to say who really has enough control there to implement agreements or take steps towards peace.

3. Making sure that the camps for internally displaced people do not ignite fresh violence. Generally speaking, people in these camps have no interest in peace with the Government after so many years of abuse and must see some sort of benefit to negotiations in order to support them.

4. Making sure that the North-South peace agreement continues to be implemented and does not fall apart.

There are probably many more factors that I can't pull into my head right now, but those are some ideas to stew on for now. If now really is a "ripe" time for resolution, then it is the perfect time for Canada to step up its diplomatic role. Especially with the international coalition that seems to be forming around the Qatari initiative. With some serious pressure, Canada and the US could help the situation become even more ripe and push both sides towards peace. They could also help monitor any agreements that are made to build confidence on both sides.

And if you have managed to read through this tome of a post, then you might as well leave a comment to let me know what you think! Continue reading this article...

Reading Up

Ruth Gonzales, a reader of this blog, recently contacted me with a great idea about recommended books for people interested in learning more Darfur, Rwanda, and the history of genocide. She also very generously sent a list of recommended books to me, which I have been hoping to compile for some time but of course never got around to. So keep an eye out on the recommended reading list in the sidebar as I add many new books to check out. And big shout out to Ruth for all the work and energy on this!

Of the books on there, many of them I personally have not yet read. I have mentioned Not on Our Watch before, the quintessential advocate's guide to Darfur complete with suggestions, tools, and calls to action. For the avid scholar, anything by Alex de Waal is recommended. He is THE recognized expert on Darfur and Sudan, although he raises some interesting questions about the advocacy movement, particularly celebrity activism. For a history of genocides, Samantha Power's A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide is a must-read, although personally sometimes the style of writing is too journalistic for me - ie. policy-makers are damned if they do, damned it they don't. However, it is definitely the best compiled history of genocides I have encountered yet.

In terms of gut-wrenching, emotive writing, I would point to either Dallaire or Philip Gourevitch's accounts of Rwanda. The Philip Gourevitch book, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families, sparked my interest in human rights and preventing mass atrocities. It is really well-written, mixing anecdotes, interviews, and well-researched histories of the conflict and country. Highly recommended.

I would love to hear everyone else's thoughts on recommended reading. Please send me an email with suggestions and ideas. And thanks to Ruth once again!

UPDATE: Check out the Comments section for some more good recommendations!

Link Continue reading this article...

Oh Sudan, Sudan, Sudan...

The more I read about Sudan, the more there is to read about Sudan. How can one country be so complicated?

I have recently been given the privilege of reading a briefing paper about one expert's opinions about the future of Sudan. Unfortunately, I am still awaiting the word as to whether I am allowed to say who or what this paper was, but I thought that in the meantime I would transmit some of its extremely illuminating and troubling details.

The Premise: How to prevent the entire country of Sudan from erupting into a huge war when the South votes for independence in the referendum scheduled for 2011?

For those who don't know, the peace treaty between the North and South signed in 2005 between President al-Bashir and Southern hero John Garang guaranteed a referendum on the status of the South to be held in 2011. The thinking was that this time could be used to convince the political elites from the North and the South of the benefits of working together, so they could subsequently either come up with a new agreement or convince the Southern people that a unified Sudan is not that bad. Unfortunately, with the violence in Darfur, the ICC indictment, and the unfortunate death of John Garang, the elites have been more than a little distracted.

If the vote were held today, the vast majority of Southerners would vote to secede from Sudan, a situation that is unlikely to change in the next two years. The North would not be too happy about this because of oil and the effect that would have on the rest of the country. Similarly, the South Sudan Government is not known as the most well-functioning government around and could quite possibly turn into a fragile or failed state itself.

Basically, the possibilities for violence in the case of a secession by the South are all-too-likely, even as it appears that this situation is an eventuality. So how do we prevent a possible future humanitarian crisis even while trying to solve the one that is happening right now?

The writer of the briefing paper has a few ideas to this end, but none of them are simple. Along the basic things that need to happen to prevent catastrophic war in 2011 are:

1) Ending the violence in Darfur.
2) More implementation of the parts of the Comprehensive Peace Treaty that have still not been implemented.
3) An agreement between political elites in the North and the South about how to proceed with the referendum. Postponing it could lose the Southern leaders their legitimacy; holding it could lose the Northerners a large chunk of their country.
4) Coming up with a contingency plan for how to deal with the possibility of a vote for secession.

Is that all? That should be easy in a country that has had a total of 13 years peace since 1956.

I hope you are all up for challenges... Continue reading this article...

Along the Border

There is an article in a recent New Yorker that gives a really good anecdotal account of life in the refugee camps in Chad. It's a long read but full of first hand accounts, historical narratives, and in-depth commentary on the situation along the border between Sudan and Chad. It begins with this juicy line...

"Everything is fine, until the moment when it is not. And when that moment comes it can be very quick and very bad."

It continues to talk about the aid workers who enter such situations and what they encounter upon arrival. This story comes from 2003, the outbreak of violence in Darfur:

"In mid-afternoon, [the UNHCR worker] arrived in AdrĂ©, a town of ten thousand inhabitants directly across the border with Darfur. Travelling along the border, he saw hundreds of people encamped in makeshift shelters of reeds and straw, with rags and tattered blankets suspended overhead on sticks. Under the midday sun, the temperature could soar to a hundred and ten degrees. Dry winds and sand storms parched the terrain and sucked moisture from anything animate. Women and children dug deep into the sand of the dry riverbeds to find water and foraged miles into the countryside collecting wood to sell at the markets. As Sturm and his team continued along the border, the hundreds became thousands. About seventy-five per cent were women and children, hollow-eyed and lank-skinned from hunger and despair and fatigue. Interviews conducted later by Human Rights Watch and Doctors Without Borders told of families being burned alive in their homes, and of men who had been forced to watch, in the moments before their own deaths, as their wives and daughters were raped. Some refugees had been there for months, and more came every day. Every so often, they saw in the distance a column of black smoke rising from another burning village. In the month before Sturm’s arrival, thirty thousand new refugees had crossed into Chad. The total number gathered along the four-hundred-mile border with Darfur, by rough estimates, came to seventy-seven thousand."

Continue reading this article...

Darfur Digest - January 2009

I. Executive Summary

Canadian Politics and Darfur: With the prorogation of parliament until January 26, there have been no new developments on Canadian politics and Darfur this month. This month‟s section will therefore take the opportunity to examine the past year‟s key developments in Canadian politics regarding the crisis in Darfur.

Security in Darfur: The situation in Darfur remained unstable in December despite renewed
efforts at peace negotiations. The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping
Operations warned that violence has not decreased since the deployment of the joint United
Nations-African Union peacekeeping force one year ago. The camps for internally displaced
persons continued to be a source of violence and tension in the region and there have been
reports of the use of child soldiers by almost all groups involved in fighting. Clashes occurred
throughout the region, with police officers being killed and the reported assassination of a rebel
group leader. Sexual slavery and forced labour was the focus of a report released this month that
said thousands of people were affected.

Negotiations and Engagement in Darfur: More UNAMID troop contributions were deployed to the Darfur region by Gambia, Ethiopia and Uganda. Ban Ki-Moon asserted that a mission should be deployed in Chad to deal with the overflow of the conflict from the Darfur region. Susan Rice was appointed as the UN Ambassador for the United States and is expected to bring positive change to the Darfur issue. Chief ICC Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo continues to push for the indictment of President al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and genocide. The peace process is once again put on hold with the SLM‟s rejection of Qatar as a mediator.

The Humanitarian Situation in Darfur: As 2008 ended, refugees were killed and injured in several IDP camps, while six aid workers were abducted and beaten. Sudanese officials are
interfering with non-governmental organizations who they accuse of spying for the ICC,
according to several UN reports. An activist group also launched accusations at Khartoum for
abducting Darfur civilians during raids and forcing them into sex work for soldiers. Significant
amounts of money were donated to fund humanitarian work in Darfur through charities and the
European Commission.

II. Policy Recommendations

1. Build on Canada's recent commitments to Darfur by appointing a Special Envoy to the region.
A Special Envoy could strengthen Canadian policymaking on Darfur in three key ways: 1)
providing the world with a public face for Canada's efforts on Darfur, 2) providing a presence on
the ground in Sudan, and 3) coordinating an integrated “all of Sudan” approach to Canadian
peacebuilding. Specifically, a Special Envoy could play a key role in assisting efforts of the
Darfuri rebel groups to form a unified and coherent bargaining position, a critical success factor
for renewed negotiations.

2. The Canadian government should pursue targeted divestment from Sudan conditioned on the
Sudanese government's cessation of atrocities in Darfur and active engagement in the peace

3. Canada‟s mission to the UN should engage more actively in multilateral diplomacy at the UN
to bring renewed prominence to the Darfur issue internationally and rally greater international
support for conflict resolution efforts. Continue reading this article...