The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Lecture: conflict in Darfur ‘not being resolved’

Carolynn Smith | Thursday, February 25, 2010

Should we still be talking about Darfur?

According to professor Edith Miguda and Notre Dame alumna Liz Kurz, the answer is yes.

They shared their experiences during a talk Wednesday at Saint Mary’s sponsopred by Campus Ministry, speaking about why they felt there should still be discussion about Darfur and its people. This event was also meant to teach students about the conflicts in Darfur and Sudan.

Miguda, a native of Kenya, explained where Darfur is and how the conflict began in this area.

“Darfur is in the greater horn of Africa,” she said. “The greater horn has had much conflict.”
Miguda said the conflict is not being resolved or helped by the government.

“The heart of the problem in Darfur is the challenge of non-Arab Darfurians to what they called decades of neglect, discrimination and marginalization by the Arab dominated government in Khartoum,” Miguda said.

She also talked about the suffering of the people in Darfur. Miguda said they live in fear because there are rebels and groups of people who attack and kill innocent people.
“Janjaweed — they are the ones who have ransacked villages — raped women and lined up men and shot them,” Miguda said.

According to the United Nations, out of the population of six million, up to 300,000 people have been killed and some 2.5 million have been displaced.

“But everyone knows that the number is much, much larger than that,” Miguda said.
Many people have fled Darfur and gone to refugee camps in other parts of Sudan or even other countries.

Kurz, a native of South Bend, said this is not the land they are used to. They are now in the desert and this makes agriculture difficult and their standard of living is very low.
“They were forced to leave the only place they have ever known and into these camps,” Kurz said.

Kurz said she had a friend who traveled to Sudan and brought back not only pictures and an experience of a lifetime, but she also brought back knowledge about the conditions in the refugee camps.

Kurz and six others decided they needed do something to try and help.

“The best way you can help people in Sudan is to be arrested in front of the Sudanese embassy, because it saves people from being killed,” Kurz said.

Kurz said she and her six friends tried this to help the people in Darfur and in Sudan.

“The seven of us went, we knelt, we prayed the rosary and the Our Father and we were arrested because we were blocking the entrance to the embassy,” Kurz said. “I spent 20 hours in jail and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I don’t know how many people we may have saved that day, I don’t know how effectual it was, but I tried.”

This is an extreme example of a way to help, and Kurz and her friends were tried and found guilty in a court of law. She will always have a misdemeanor on her record, but she said she will never regret what she did.

On Feb. 23, the Peace Accord was signed in Doha, Qatar, ending the war in Darfur.

According to Miguda, however, there are still many people who need help, especially those who have been displaced from their homes.

“Little, small actions can make a big difference,” Miguda said.