On Nuba and Neglect

Of all the reasons in all this world  why children are starving maybe none is quite as insidious as what is killing them in the Nuba Region of Sudan. On first glance, at least.

It is a horrible story tinged with power and politics. A rebel group controls the Nuba area of Sudan and the Sudanese government is fighting those rebels but shutting down the region — bombing indiscrimanantly so no one goes out to farm and people feel forced to flee their villages, shutting off “aid corridors” so no humanitarian aid can get through.

This is all what we learn from Nick Kristof’s latest report from Sudan,  where he recently visited. He was talking about this also back in February (you might remember the photo of the kids living in the cave...) . He reports that, since then, things have only gotten worse.

Basically, thousands of people have no food. They are living off the land in the sense they’re eating mice, tree leaves, and whatever they can maybe shoot – which is very little. If you read Kristof’s article, you see he talks to a woman who’s 2-year-old daughter recently died of starvation.

So, in short, a government is keeping food out of  a region where they have no food. Same for medical care. A government has turned on its own people and justified it by saying there are rebels they need to weed out.

I don’t know if there’s much we can do. Kristof seems to think pressuring Obama to take action is one thing. But it’s an election year and clearly, this isn’t something most voters are paying attention to.

But here’s what I was thinking. I said in my first sentence, this is the most insidious case of children being starved out – because it’s so callous, because these children and families are being treated like slow-dying collateral damage in some war for land and power.

But really, when a child is starving in a world with technically enough food for everyone, isn’t it always a case of someone’s neglect?  Isn’t the fact kids are starving to death – literally starving to death in, for example, Haiti, which is, what, a three-hour flight from Miami? – isn’t that a sign of neglect? Of someone shrugging it off? When people down the street even, don’t have food? Is someone being neglectful there? Who?

There are a lot of ways that the government of Sudan could be helping to feed its own people. They are intentionally not. There are a lot of ways people with food… and access and power and money could be helping feed people. And are not. Is it the same thing? No. Is it the same result? Yes.

Groups fighting hunger include:  Oxfam  ( worldwide projects on ending hunger and its root causes ) , Sheepfold School Haiti  (provides at least one meal a day for children in Port-Au-Prince, even if they don’t go to the school…) , and the Greater Boston Food Bank  (if you’re in MA. You’ve heard of them I’m sure) You may know a lot of others – there are many out there. People do care. We all care. Or most of us. And we’re not out dropping bombs on civilians not caring if they live or die or starve or don’t.

The question is making our collective actions match our collective concern. That’s usually the question

As always, drop as you see fit.

And thanks for reading,



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