Mia Farrow’s Fight to End Darfur’s Ethnic Cleansing

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SEATTLE, Washington — Though only receiving attention in the last decade, Darfur, a western region of Sudan, has experienced war among its government and various liberation groups since 2003. The government has enabled killing, torture and rape of people who are not of Arab descent to ethnically cleanse the Sudanese population. Janjaweed, Sudan’s main Arab militia, is mainly responsible for Darfur’s ethnic cleansing. The United Nations implemented aid to refugee camps with help from Mia Farrow, but Janjaweed cut it off.

Issues in the Sudanese Government

The Sudanese government is the biggest threat to its people. In 2003, rebel groups such as the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement began to fight the Sudanese government, accusing it of abusing and oppressing the non-Arab population of Darfur. The U.N. described the situation in Darfur as “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.” In an effort to send teams to Darfur to investigate the ethnic cleansing, the U.N. teams had to wait an unprecedented amount of time to receive their visas.

In March of 2009, the International Criminal Court charged Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the former president of Sudan, with “masterminding mass killings and deportations.” Still, the charge proved ineffective in curbing violence. Almost immediately after, Sudan expelled 16 foreign and domestic humanitarian aid groups for working with the International Criminal Court.

How Mia Farrow Has Helped

With the Sudanese government denying aid from external organizations, the people of Darfur have depended on the few individuals who recognize the gravity of the situation and help. Mia Farrow, a Hollywood movie star and model, has made copious efforts to help Darfur’s people. As a Goodwill Ambassador for the U.N., Farrow has been a vital pillar to the fundraising and awareness for conflict zones, especially those involving children.

Farrow has made several trips to the Darfur region, and she even organized a hunger strike as an act of solidarity with the starving people of Sudan. Furthermore, Farrow started the organization Fund4Darfur with the help of the AEGIS Trust. Fund4Darfur is a direct funnel of resources to the survivors of Darfur’s ethnic cleansing and campaigns working to aid.

Effects of Farrow’s Efforts

With more than 3 million victims and 300,000 deaths, Farrow sees Darfur’s ethnic cleansing as one of the most pressing issues of our time. On Farrow’s many trips to Darfur, she has appealed to rebel groups and government officials. Additionally, she has met with community leaders and the African Union and collaborated with humanitarian partners. Within Darfur’s crisis, Farrow’s focus remains on the war’s effect on children. Children in displacement camps are forcibly armed and fear death upon leaving the camps.

As a result of the war and displacement camps, thousands of children are not receiving primary education. Before Farrow’s work with UNICEF and Aegis’ Fund4Darfur, schools had no learning resources. In fact, a classroom of 100 kids would only have one grammar textbook. Since the onset of Farrow’s work, more than 900 classrooms have been constructed.

Through UNICEF’s help, more than 800,000 people have been given safe water access and 50,000 people have been given access to sanitation facilities. UNICEF has also established more than 150 facilities such as health clinics and urgent care centers, which have vaccinated more than two million people. With a high rate of measles and polio, the health centers have been pivotal for the displaced population of Darfur.

Farrow encourages the U.S. population to push congressional leaders to work on political aid and donate to organizations that are doing hands-on work in the region, like UNICEF and Fund4Darfur.

Maya Sulkin
Photo: Flickr

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