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Why Darfur?

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[video:youtube:3OWj1ZGn4uM] Charlie Beckett, from the London School of Economics, wonders why the conflict in Darfur, and not North Kivu, Somalia or Chad has so captured the imagination of western media (and to so little effect). Here's his theory,
My theory is that since March 2003 this has been a narrative given legs by a series of co-incidences. First the UN took it up, then certain key figures in the US media such as Nicholas D Kristof, and then some very committed and intelligent celebrities such as George Clooney. And for political reasons George W Bush was happy to back diplomatic efforts. So Liberal America has taken it up as its chosen international cause. But it also shows the limits of media. Darfur is still a mess. It will need a political solution by Africans in the region, not America link
Charlie adds that the LSE have a researcher looking at this issue, and he welcomes input. Just by the by, a couple of the keyword RSS feeds I keep an eye on for this blog are Darfur, Somalia and Kivu in Google video/Youtube. The results are stark in their difference. Darfur currently boasts 10712 search results - predominantly consisting of soundtracked slideshows produced by American students, or at least it seems that way when you watch what comes in day in day out. Somalia boasts around 8423 search results - student produced slideshows exist, but don't dominate. Whereas a search for Kivu finds just 249 search results including the one from the Pulitzer Center featured above above and I haven't spotted many (or any) student vids in there.

1 Comment

Anonymous | May 8, 2008 3:46 PM

I've blogged about this before and I'll blog about it again. The roots lie in the civil war of the south, when evangelical Christians from America found it easy to identify with a largely Christian population in the south pitted agains a Muslim, arab government in the north.

They carried their activity across to Darfur, bringing it the attention of many people who wouldn't otherwise be aware of Sudan's problems. But it has also attracted a bizarre mishmash of often conservative, religious groupings in an anti-Khartoum alliance.

Their black and white analysis has generally done more harm than good, and has sucked in people with a liberal viewpoint - including many of my esteemed colleagues in the press, who have a romantic notion that rebels are always the good guys.

As a result, the debate has been sucked into pursuing a military intervention while many people with a more complete understanding of what's happening on the ground have said it is a bit of a red herring. The attention given Darfur by organisations such as the Save Darfur Coalition has ultimately done more harm than good, bringing forth solutions tailored to domestic public opinion rather than Darfur's needs.