Woodturnings to Battle Covid-19 in Darfur and Eastern Chad
May 4, 2020
I’m switching from providing support for front-line medical workers in this country to sending all proceeds from all woodturning sales to the International Medical Corps for their work in Darfur and eastern Chad. With a terribly cruel inevitability, Covid-19 is now spreading rapidly in Sudan and has begun to appear in Darfur. When the virus reaches the IDP camps, with their exceedingly crowded conditions, the virus will rip through vast populations. Basic supplies are minimal (masks, hand sanitizers)—and testing, oxygen support, and other emergency measures are non-existent. Basic clinics are few and far between. The possibilities for “social distancing” are often also non-existent, especially in camps where continuing insecurity prevents any real freedom of movement outside the camps or returns to homes and farms.
Covid-19 was slow to reach many areas in Africa, which were temporarily spared by virtue of their remoteness. No longer. And in Darfur—with well over 2 million Internally Displaced persons—and eastern Chad—where the UN High Commission for Refugees estimates that more than 350,000 Darfuri refugees remain in camps along the Chad/Sudan border—existing humanitarian resources are desperately short as the virus begins its inexorable march through human populations.
Covid-19 is far from under control in the U.S. and many other wealthy nations. But the potential resources, including eventual vaccination, exist. And yet exceedingly poor leadership in the U.S. ensures that we will be “net exporters” of the virus for possibly years to come—certainly until a vaccine is found and produced at scale.
Meanwhile, those who are the “importers” of the virus, such as Sudan, will struggle against terrible odds to bring about minimal prophylactic measures, provide medical responses to Covid-19 victims, and to sustain food production and distribution. Clean water and sanitation will become even more acute issues in Darfur.
Once a human rights “cause célèbre,” Darfur now struggles with virtual invisibility–an indifferent international community, a dysfunctional UN, and a weak central government in Khartoum that can’t control Arab militia assaults on non-Arab Darfuris, in camps and in rural areas. The onslaught of Covid-19 in these camps, still housing well over 2 million displaced persons, may finish the genocidal destruction begun by the regime of Omar al-Bashir 17 years ago.
The International Medical Corps has been there from the beginning and remains, struggling against the grimmest of odds. They deserve generous support for this courageous and essential work.
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