And yet another grim humanitarian crisis goes unnoticed

Berl Falbaum

We’ll start with a Jeopardy!-like format in which contestants are given a fact as a clue and they have to answer with a question. Here is the clue: It is one of the world’s most devastating humanitarian disasters.

I think I hear a collective response: “What is Gaza?” While the answer is understandable, it is wrong.

It is Sudan which has been met in the world with a silence that is truly deafening.  The global blindness to Sudan, whatever the reasons, clearly demonstrates the double-standard -- once again -- that is applied to Israel and which deserves uncompromising condemnation.

First some facts from internet sources and a cover story, “The Victims of Africa’s Forgotten War,” in a weekly issue of The Guardian on the civil war in Sudan that began about a year ago between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF). (Focus, if you will, on the numbers).

 • About 25 million people require humanitarian assistance of which 14 million are children.

• More than 8 million (15 percent of the total population) have fled their homes since the war began.

• Sudan faces the largest displacement crisis in the world. More than 6 million have been displaced within Sudan and almost 2 million have fled the country.  Four million children have been displaced making Sudan the largest child displacement crisis in the world.

• The country faces dire food shortages, the health care system is in desperate shape, and 65 percent of the population lacks access to health care.

• Women are raped in front of their children, daughters raped in front of their parents, children shot through their heads in their beds, others are kidnapped. Even before the war broke out, the U.N estimated that more than 3 million women and girls were at risk of gender-based violence.

• The conflict has plunged Sudan into “one of the worst humanitarian nightmares in recent history,” according to one UN official. And some warn, the war may trigger the world’s largest hunger crisis.

One doctor, who asked to remain anonymous, told a reporter:

“The roads were filled with the smell of death and gunfire. Bodies were decomposing in the streets, covered in bullet wounds.

“The city was flooded with guns of all types. I have never seen anything like this.”

He said he witnessed gunmen kill residents indiscriminately, and when armed groups started going door to door …killing residents, he and a colleague fled.

Writes The Guardian: “An increasing number [of refugees] are trying to reach Europe as food supplies dwindle in the refugee camps and the eyes of the world look elsewhere.”

I believe I can conclude that you are responding with disbelief and a surprised, “Huh?”

Of course, that’s the point. There is little condemnation from the U.N. Nightly news shows which, invariably, open with a lead story on the suffering of Gazans, have given little, if any, airtime to the despair in Sudan.  

There have been no protests in the streets or on college campuses. Organizations which posture themselves as being apolitical, for the first time in their histories, found it necessary to adopt anti-Israel resolutions but have ignored Sudan.

Of course, there are other humanitarian disasters around the world which have escaped any public outcry. For instance, in the war in Yemen 150,000 civilians have been killed and 227,000 have died as a result of famine and lack of health care.  Another five million -- that’s 5 million -- are facing a “catastrophic” famine in the coming months and more than 730,000 children suffering from “severe” malnutrition.

And while the Russian onslaught of Ukraine has faded from public view, the killing continues with tens of thousands of children being kidnapped by Russia with nary a word of protest from any quarter.

None of this is to suggest that Israel should be immune from criticism or that the plight of Gazans be ignored nor that Israel should -- must -- do all that is possible to minimize civilian casualties. (In a previous column, I have called for the ouster of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.)

We are addressing fairness, balance and outright bias which, to understate the fact, has been sorely missing.

Consider another example: Israel has been pressured continually to scale down its military operation while Hamas is hardly mentioned. Yet, the war would end immediately if the terrorist organization simply laid down its arms.

So, here is a suggestion to the media: Consider publishing a story on why this is so.  Why is Israel always -- and I use the absolute “always” advisedly -- the culprit?  Why is it faced with international condemnation for a war it did not start and which it has to fight against an enemy that hides behind civilians and promises to repeat its butchery “again, again and again.”  

Why are other calamities ignored?  Why is Israel blamed for civilian deaths by countries who, when they were allies in World War II, deliberately leveled more than a dozen German and Japanese cities? We won’t even mention the two A-bombs -- “Litte boy” and “Fat man” -- dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which, the internationally renowned intellectual/writer, the late Hannah Arendt, considered a war crime in her book: “Eichmann in Jerusalem: The Banality of Evil.”  

(Also worth noting:  Civilian deaths in World War II totaled between 50-55 million while combatant/military deaths stood at 21-25 million).

The answers to the questions posed above would make fascinating reading. That would be a real public service.  

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