Saturday, April 20, 2013

Darfur crisis: a student's perspective

Through the course of research, I have learned a lot about Darfur and the humanitarian crisis occurring there. My portion of the group project was to examine the role of non-governmental organizations in the crisis. These organizations provide various forms of aid, intelligence, and advocacy. The complexity and severity of the crisis had yielded a huge response from the NGO community.

There are many types of NGO intervention. Aid comes in the form of food, medical supplies and services, financial support, psychological and spiritual services, and organizational management for displaced persons, and building materials and construction. Examples of NGOs that provide this micro and meso level aid are the Save the Children Coalition, Help Darfur Now, the Darfur Coalition, the World Health Organization, the United Nations, the Red Cross, and CARE International and its national branches.

Advocacy is an important role of NGOs as well. Advocacy raises awareness of the crisis, which brings political and aid support. Nearly all NGOs I researched were involved in advocacy. Many local student organizations are raising awareness on college campuses, and raising money for aid organizations. NGOs that specifically advocate for displace persons in Darfur and raise the international awareness of the crisis include Bloggers for Darfur, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, International Crisis Group, the Genocide Intervention Network, Justice for Darfur, and the Student Anti-Genocide Coalition.

Advocacy would not be possible without organizations that are on the ground collecting intelligence data on the crisis. In my opinion, this continues to be the most dangerous job, and the most necessary. Without good intelligence, the International Criminal Court would be unable to prosecute, the UN would be unable to impose sanctions, and in general political action could not be taken. Some of the NGOs collecting intelligence include Amnesty International, Civilian Protection Monitoring Team, Crisis Watch, and the Small Arms Coalition.

The above three groups approximate the roles of many NGOs. Many NGOs play multiple roles, and others do not fit perfectly in the categories of aid, advocacy, and intelligence. For example, Air Serve International provides air lifts throughout Chad and Sudan; a very dangerous and needed job. They transport the wounded and bring humanitarian aid into different areas. The International Criminal Court attempts to prosecute key players behind the unrest in the area. AfriCare supports farmers in Chad and Sudan.

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