Another alleged genocide

The attention of the United States remains firmly fixed on alleged genocide in Gaza. But another alleged genocide has received little or no notice. Human Rights Watch alleges that a genocide has been committed in Sudan. The BBC reports:

“A genocide may have been committed in the West Darfur city of El Geneina in one of the worst atrocities of the year-long Sudanese civil war, according to a report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW). It says ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity have been committed against ethnic Massalit and non-Arab communities in the city by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and its Arab allies. The report calls for sanctions against those responsible for the atrocities, including the RSF leader, Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, widely known as Hemedti. The UN says about 15,000 people are feared to have been killed in El Geneina last year.”

Here’s the full BBC story. Be warned: it makes for unpleasant reading.

The reason I mention this alleged genocide is that wars and violence in sub-Saharan Africa don’t seem to get much attention in the US. Take for example the brutal war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The DRC has close to three quarters of the world’s cobalt reserves, and cobalt is a key ingredient in the lithium ion batteries that the U.S. and other countries are counting on the halt global climate change. Yet we rarely hear about this war in the US, and there are no protests calling for divestment from companies that profit from access to cheap cobalt for their lithium-ion batteries. Similarly, little attention has been paid in the US to the Mahgreb insurgency in Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, and other nearby countries, even though al-Qaeda is behind much of the violence. Perhaps Americans have grown weary of hearing about al-Qaeda, but I would have expected a bit more media and social media attention paid to a conflict featuring a stated enemy of the US. Or what about the conflict in Ethiopia which began in 2018 and may now be slowly winding down — estimates of the death toll vary from 180,000 at the low end to over 600,000. I saw no widespread outrage in the US over the atrocities committed in that conflict.

So why does the war in Gaza and Israel draw so much attention? I suspect this is partly it’s because psychologically we humans have a limited capacity for compassion. Compassion fatigue is a real thing, and if you’re paying attention to Ukraine and Gaza/Israel, you probably don’t have much compassion left over for alleged genocide in Sudan. I suspect the lack of attention is also due in part to the fact that most people in the US have little interest in what happens in Africa. When I’m looking for news and information on Africa, I don’t find much on US news outlets or US social media; I have to go to the BBC. But I don’t really have an answer to this question, except maybe to say that we in the US reserve the right to choose which atrocities we pay attention to.

4 thoughts on “Another alleged genocide”

  1. We if you mean the US have been involved Militarily in Africa for some time and mostly at war with ISIS there; especially in Sudan. Whether that’s for better or worse for Africans you can judge. Sudan, and Nigeria escape US and Western News, but I believe Africom and it’s dollars certainly focused on ISIS in Africa.

    Hussain Abdul-Hussain has a column over at Fundation for Defense of Democracies “Is Gaza Really the Biggest Case of Arab Suffering?” One can dismiss Abdul-Hussain as a new-con sword rattler but the numbers hard to dismiss IMO.

  2. Bill, the U.S. has indeed been involved in Africa for a long time. Which makes it still harder to explain why African wars get so little coverage in U.S. media and on social media.

    I read the Hussain Abdul-Hussain article, and as you point out he certainly does have a political axe to grind. Yet sometimes we have to turn to such commentary, because it can be difficult to find sources of news about Sudan. Having said that, I’m more likely to read the coverage of Sudan on the BBC website. There’s also Dabanga Radio and TV, an independent Sudanese outlet based in the Netherlands; the Sudanese government considers Dabanga to be an enemy, but at this point it’s one of the few independent news outlets offering regular reporting from inside Sudan.

    There’s a larger question of where to find information about all worldwide armed conflicts. Wikipedia’s page titled “List of ongoing armed conflicts” is useful, in that it offers links to outside sources that cover armed conflicts.

    Perhaps most useful are two websites:
    (1) the Uppsala Armed Conflict Database
    and (2) the Armed Conflict Location and Events Data
    The Uppsala site seems to contain more info about actual wars, while the ACLED site is aimed at “political violence and protest.”

  3. LdeG, the U.S. is providing at least some military funding in Africa. In just one small example of U.S. military presence, a recent article on “The Conversation” website by two military analysts looks at how the U.S. is losing its military bases in Niger. Here’s the article —

    This article claims that since 2001, the U.S. has increased its military presence in Africa as part of the U.S. response to terrorism. Given that both the ongoing conflict in the Mahgreb region and the war in Sudan involve combatants with links to al-Qaeda and other Arab extremist groups, I would expect that the U.S. is in fact involved in those conflicts, including funding the side we’re favorable to.

    Obviously, the aid to Israel is far greater than the aid to African countries, and we should certainly pay attention to the places where we’re giving tons of money. What I’m arguing for is that we should also pay attention to places where there are major humanitarian crises, i.e., it’s not just about money.

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