Africare News Release
Africare President Moderates Panel on Darfur
Panel proposes U.S. policy steps for stabilizing the region
and discusses China’s role in the conflict
Washington, D.C., February 11, 2008—Despite enormous financial aid through government and non- governmental agencies, the crisis in Darfur deepens. On February 8, 2008, five experts came together for a panel discussion at the National Press Club, sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and The Economist magazine, to discuss policy steps that can be taken to bring peace to the region.
|Africare President Julius E. Coles (left) describes aspects of the atrocities in Darfur as moderator of a panel that included former Sen. Bill Frist, M.D. (center) and actress/activist Mia Farrow.|
Africare president Julius Coles moderated the panel that included former Senator Bill Frist (Africare Board member), actress/activist Mia Farrow, Washington correspondent for The Economist Robert Guest and U.S. State Department’s Senior Representative to Sudan, Lauren Landis. The panelists spoke about the way forward for this growing humanitarian crisis that has already left about 200,000 to 400,000 dead and 2.5 million persons displaced.
Julius Coles offered some astounding statistics. “This is the world’s largest humanitarian effort with 75 NGO’s [non- governmental organizations] working in the area, as well as 14 UN agencies, with a total of 13,000 people on the ground,” he said. “More than 4.2 million people have been impacted by this crisis.”
Both Senator Frist and State Department Representative Landis stressed the positive role the U.S. has played, stating that the U.S. is the largest donor to the Sudan, giving $1 billion in assistance annually. Landis stated that the reason there has not yet been an outbreak of cholera or massive famine is due in large part to the U.S. assistance. Both agreed on the need to reinforce and implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and the South. Frist went on to say that it is essential to establish a three to five year plan, reminding the audience of the critical importance of diplomacy and America’s responsibility in taking the lead.
Robert Guest of The Economist described the difficulties in getting the world to take notice of this unfolding tragedy, postulating two reasons: people expect bad news from Africa, and Africa does not matter to the rest of the world. In the case of Darfur, he contended, only when the quantity and quality of this news reached a certain level did nations begin to take action.
In an emotion-filled humanitarian power point presentation entitled “Never Again,” taken from the phrase used after the holocaust, Mia Farrow described life in the camps in Sudan as “cauldrons of despair and rage” where 80 to 90 percent of the villages are ashes. Farrow, who has made eight trips to Darfur, recounted heart-rending human tragedies. She then spoke directly to China’s role in underwriting the genocide in Darfur. As the lead supplier of weapons to the Sudanese government, Farrow stated that China was acting to protect its oil sources in the region. With China working hard to project a positive image for the upcoming 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Farrow asserted that there is still time to pressure corporate Olympic sponsors to stop China’s involvement in Sudan.
Africare is a leading non-profit organization specializing in African aid. It is also the oldest and largest African-American led organization in that field. Since its founding in 1970, Africare has delivered more than $710 million in assistance and support — over 2,000 projects and millions of beneficiaries —to 36 countries Africa-wide. Africare has its international headquarters in Washington, DC, with field offices currently in some 25 African countries.
Africare currently operates the Gaga Refugee Camp in eastern Chad, which offers humanitarian assistance to 18,000 refugees from Sudan’s Darfur region. More information is available on this Web site.