Between 1991 and 1993, I traveled extensively as a human rights monitor in what became known as the “starvation triangle” in southeastern Sudan. A third of a million southern Sudanese civilians perished in those swamps and savannas, primarily due to the extended periods when the Sudanese government would cut off all access to humanitarian aid to the areas it was trying to pacify militarily.
In makeshift clinics throughout the starvation triangle, I watched one child after another expire due to the cessation of food and medical aid. Only a few years into his reign, President Omar al-Bashir had learned that starvation was an effective weapon of war.
On March 4, hours after the International Criminal Court issued its arrest warrant for President Bashir for crimes against humanity in Darfur, my heart sank when I heard that his reaction was to expel a number of aid agencies from the most vulnerable areas of Darfur. I knew immediately that the death tolls would skyrocket unless governments all over the world—led by the United States—stood up to this deliberate withholding of the basics needed to sustain life for hundreds of thousands of people.
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