Ali B. Ali-Dinar, descendant of the last sultan of Darfur, urges help for western Sudan
Daily News Staff Writer
Monday, January 21, 2008
|Daily News Photo by Jeffrey Langlois
Ali B. Ali-Dinar, grandson of Sultan Ali-Dinar, the last king of Darfur, before speaking at the United Nations Association on Thursday at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea.
Ali B. Ali-Dinar visits his home of Al-Fashir — the capital city of North Darfur, in western Sudan — on a fairly regular basis. The area has changed so much it is almost unrecognizable from the days of his childhood.
During a two-month stay starting last August, Ali-Dinar, of Pennsylvania, didn't go outside unaccompanied for fear that he, as an outsider, would be attacked and killed.
Although there have long been tribal conflicts in Sudan, a number of factors are turning the Darfur conflict, which started in 2003, into a tragedy of mammoth proportions.
The conflict so far has resulted in the deaths of 200,000 or more in Sudan, many of them black Africans, and has displaced as many as 2.5 million people into refugee camps within Sudan and to Chad, according to the United Nations.
Ali-Dinar, the grandson of the last sultan of Darfur, on Thursday urged members of the Palm Beach chapter of the United Nations Association of the United States to push the United States and the U.N. to do more to stop the bombings, dismemberment, rape and mass murders taking place in western Sudan.
"We have to do something, because these are human beings. These are civilians," Ali-Dinar said during the talk at The Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea.
Although members of the Janjaweed militia are doing much of the killing, it is supported by a corrupt government interested in staying in power, Ali-Dinar said.
"The war in Darfur is a government-orchestrated act," he said.
The United Nations has had a presence in Sudan via a 7,000-member African Union force that only monitors the situation. A 26,000-member U.N. force moving in this year will not be any more effective, as it won't use helicopters to monitor conflict areas and, like the smaller African Union force, is not charged with protecting the residents of Darfur, Ali-Dinar said.
Countries in the African Union don't have, and American and Europe are not presently willing to provide, helicopters and the logistical network to aid the process, Ali-Dinar said. As such, the Sudanese government largely controls what U.N. forces see, he said.
The government's repression of journalists has also made getting a full account of the murders difficult, he said.
He urged members to call for more diplomatic efforts, economic sanctions and a more potent U.N. role to end the conflict.
"If the U.N. troops are there and they have no logistics, then it is a sham,"
An audience member said Sand and Sorrow, a George Clooney-narrated HBO documentary, is a good reference source on the conflict. It will be available on DVD through HBO.com Jan. 29.
Charles Klotsche, chapter president, recommended The Devil Came on Horseback, also available on DVD