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Dying for Change
Cameron Sinclair, 30 Aug 04

Sudan_WC.jpgWhile the media focuses its attention on the show of strength and unity taking place at the RNC in New York this week across the other side of the world the mass slaughter of civilians continues to take place in the Darfur region of Western Sudan. There is also word today that five humanitarian workers gone missing and possibly kidnapped.

The current administration has stopped short of officially declaring genocide, despite both houses of the US congress passing a resolution declaring that the atrocities unfolding are in violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, signed in Paris on Dec. 9, 1948. The African Union has sent in troops to act as peacekeepers and on Thursday the UN is set to announce its findings after an official visit to Sudan.

International aid has been arriving and the USAID's has sent 10,830 rolls of plastic sheeting and 200,000 blankets to provide shelter for 600,000 displaced Sudanese. Is this 'the best we can do'? At best this is a stop-gap or band-aid approach to shelter. Or should we be realistic and work to help these human beings rise up out of their displacement?

We need take a preemptive approach in creating solutions that are economically and environmentally sustainable such that it allows someone to create a life for themselves and not just a plastic sheet as a place to live. Over the next two weeks my organization, Architecture for Humanity, will be trying to tackle this issue and be providing pro-bono support with NGOs in the field on the assessment and strategic planning of IDP camps and returning refugees*.

But it is time for the ‘guy who’s making history’ to stop talking about compassion and start being compassionate. So get informed, speak up and if possible get involved.

*previous AFH work on housing for returning refugees.

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