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Three International Medical Workers Kidnapped in Darfur

by Karen Hirschfeld on March 12, 2009

First the Sudanese Government expelled 13 aid groups by edict overnight; now the remaining groups are being terrorized.

Now, three internationals—a Canadian nurse, an Italian doctor and a French coordinator—have been kidnapped by armed gunmen in a government-controlled area of north Darfur. While the identities of the gunmen are unknown, the effect is chilling: MSF-Belgium, the kidnapped workers' employers and one of the organizations not expelled, announced its decision to withdraw all but a skeleton staff (to follow the case of their abducted colleagues) from Darfur. And now the UN Peacekeepers are being targeted; four were shot and wounded when their convoy came under fire Tuesday.

Soon, there will be no outsiders left to tell the stories of the slow suffering on a massive scale—such as the slow starvation of the 1.1 million not receiving food rations, or the people dying of thirst in 115 degree heat as the water has run out in their camps. Or tell the story of the Darfuris forced to demonstrate against the International Criminal Court’s decision so that the Government could show that on TV.

Imagine the entire population of Dallas, Texas, having no food, no water, no medical care and no security. IMAGINE.

For six years, we, the international community, have allowed the situation in Darfur to continue—consoling ourselves with the fact that we have been funding humanitarian assistance. Now that capacity to take care of these exiled people is growing weaker by the day.

The key to getting President Bashir to change his mind and allow aid groups to resume activities are his allies, the Chinese (email), the Russians (email), and the members of the African Union and Arab League. They are the only ones who have clout. Write to them and tell them to ask President Bashir to allow the expelled aid groups to return to Darfur. Thank you.


Places: Sudan

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