Friday, March 13, 2009

MSF hostages freed

The latest word is that the kidnapped MSF workers have been freed. No additional details at this point. 

While we're on the subject though, here's a a letter from a member of MSF who, unlike us, actually did spend Christmas in Darfur.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Aid Workers Kidnapped in Darfur

Now here's a new twist. Kidnapping. 

Three foreign members of Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF... also know as Doctors Without Borders), have been kidnapped by "gunmen" according to Reuters. This is a new twist in a worsening conflict. After the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omar Bashir earlier this month, Mr. Bashir retaliated by showing many international aid organizations the door-several arms of MSF were among them. But this kidnapping is a new low. 

Who is behind the kidnapping? It's probably not one of the Darfur rebel groups like JEM or the SLM... that would be downright counterproductive. So we're only left to assume that whoever is behind it has Bashir's acquiescence if not tacit approval. But this would be counterproductive for Bashir. MSF are the badasses of all the aid groups. As long as they are there, other aid workers know they are not engaged in a complete suicide mission. If MSF are forced or intimidated out of Sudan, remaining aid groups are likely to follow suit, and this crisis will be taken to a whole new level.

We've always thought that Bashir was nothing if not shrewd. He never allowed the conflict in Darfur to get so out of hand that world leaders would actually have to respond in a substantive way. But if this kidnapping ends poorly, or if it's is the first of more to come, Bashir may find that he's finally pushed the international community too far.