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Author: Maggie Fick

No Justice, No Peace

A recent State Department map highlights the relationship between systems of justice and cases of violence against women around the world. The map usefully illustrates how ending what the Enough and others have called a “culture of impunity” is essential to halting the horrific epidemics of gender-based violence occurring today in places like eastern Congo. In Congo, law enforcement as we know it is nonexistent, and access to justice is near impossible for women who survive brutal acts of sexual violence. Congolese women and girls are afraid to report these abuses for fear that they will be attacked by the ...

More on Condi’s Meet the Press interview

As John Norris mentioned above, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed her “real regrets” over the U.S. failure to end the genocide in Darfur on Meet the Press. In a November New York Times interview, she said the same thing: One of the real regrets I’ve had is that we haven’t been able to do something about Sudan…Now, it’s true, we’ve been able to do a lot about the humanitarian situation. We’ve even been able to support getting some peacekeepers onto the ground; and where there are peacekeepers, there’s less violence. But we could’ve done so much more... Condi is ...

Somalia: “Laboratory for Anarchy”

In a chilling Washington Post op-ed, Black Hawk Down author Mark Bowden called Somalia a “laboratory for anarchy,” an apt description for a country that has simmered on the brink of chaos off and on—but mostly on—for the past eighteen years. Lacking a functioning central government since 1991, Somalia has played host to regional proxy wars, warlord politics, and more recently pirates and Islamist extremism in the form of a ruthless militia known as the Shabaab. Bowden’s op-ed highlights the grim realities of what happens when the international community simply gives up on a failed state. In Mogadishu (and undoubtedly ...

Shabaab in Darfur

The New York Times recently reported on a troubling development in Darfur’s refugee camps: the presence of “angry and outspoken,” even “extreme” youths who are collectively calling themselves the “shabaab,” the Arabic word for “young men.” These young men are challenging traditional sheiks and elders, in some cases violently; 11 sheiks have been killed in and around refugee camps in the Zalingei region of West Darfur since early 2007. Although the cases are unsolved, many suspect that shabaab involvement. As the Times article remarked, the growing youth militia adds a new and complicating dynamic to any peace efforts in Darfur ...

Top humanitarian crises will not cease without political solutions

The humanitarian relief organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders) recently released their annual list of “Top Ten Humanitarian Crises of 2008.” MSF said that many aid organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to help the world’s most vulnerable people due to heightened security risks in “hazardous and threatening environments.” Making the list were the acute humanitarian situations in Somalia, eastern Congo, Sudan, places where aid workers have come under direct attack or faced significant obstacles in delivering relief supplies to ailing populations amidst ongoing violence. MSF also noted: With the release of this list, we ...

The Year of the Gorilla

The Year of the Gorilla
On December 1, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) announced the launch of the “Year of the Gorilla.” About a third of the world’s last 700 mountain gorillas live in war-torn eastern Congo. As the New York Times’ Jeffrey Gettleman recently wrote, the plight of Congo’s gorillas is “just the latest crisis within a crisis. The gorillas of Congo happen to live in one of the most contested, blood-soaked pieces of turf in one of the most contested, blood-soaked corners of Africa.” It is certainly a worthy goal to increase international efforts to protect an endangered species. However, some of ...

Slavery in Darfur

Slavery in Darfur
The Darfur Consortium published an alarming report this week documenting the systematic abduction of Darfuri civilians by Janjaweed militias and the Sudanese Armed Forces throughout the Darfur conflict. The report indicates that since 2003, hundreds, possibly thousands, of Darfuris from non-Arabic speaking ethnic groups such as the Fur, Massaleit and Zaghawa, were abducted for the purposes of serving as sex slaves and laborers to the Janjaweed and other Sudanese government-backed militias. One Darfuri woman who was abducted and managed to escape described what happened to her and other women abducted from a displaced camp in 2005: They used us like ...

Those Savvy Chadian Rebels

Those Savvy Chadian Rebels
Former Chadian Defense Minister turned rebel chief Mahamat Nouri announced this week that a coalition of five rebel groups have agreed to a program to establish an “independent judiciary and elections within 18 months” if they succeed in toppling Chadian President Idriss Déby’s government. High-level rebel diplomacy over the past two months between a plethora of rebel factions resulted in the signing of this agreement, which is premised on the rebels’ goal of forceful regime change in Ndjamena. Rebels usually don’t announce their coups in advance, but this is business as usual in Chad, where three coup attempts in the ...

Crisis in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s downward spiral continues. The United Nations estimated on Friday that the death toll from the cholera epidemic has reached 1,123, with suspected cases now at 20,896. The New York Times reported today on a recent U.N. survey reported that “7 in 10 people had eaten either nothing or only a single meal the day before.” In November, the U.N.’s World Food Program (WFP) was forced to cut rations to more than four million people in Zimbabwe after receiving “no response” from the international community to aid in feeding the suffering Zimbabwean population (in part because of President Mugabe’s long ...

Cholera Map

Cholera Map
Change.org’s Humanitarian Relief blogger Michael Kleinman has a good USAID map of cholera-affected areas in Zimbabwe, and another map can be found here ...