by NBC's Ann Curry
Major news about Darfur:
Andrea Mitchell is reporting: "NBC News has learned President Obama will announce tomorrow (Wednesday) that he is appointing a special representative for Sudan," to deal with Darfur.
He is Retired Air Force Major General Scott Gration. A senior administration official says that Gration is a close personal friend, who first met then-Senator Obama in 2006 and traveled with him to Chad on a tour of refugee camps. Gration is the son of missionaries who grew up in the Congo and whose family was evacuated several times during successive crises there. He campaigned actively for Obama - even after having been on the Pentagon's Jt Staff during the Bush administration. Gration was in the Pentagon on 9/11 - and later served on the planning staff for the Iraq war. Most recently, he was CEO of the NGO "Millenium Villages."
Okay that's one impressive resume. So is Gration the man for the job?
Appointing an envoy to Sudan is what Darfur activists, most notably George Clooney, have been calling on President Obama to do. And the president's decision to do so comes just as some were just beginning to publicly question how the campaign rhetoric about Darfur measures up to the administration's muted response to the spiraling crisis.
Recently, in reaction to his indictment for Crimes against Humanity in Darfur, Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir kicked 13 international aid agencies out of Sudan. He also threatened to force all foreign humanitarian groups out within a year.
If you could see what the survivors of Darfur's war are now enduring even with humanitarian aid, it would stop you cold. There are more than a million of them still in Darfur, forced by rape and murder and the burning of their villages into sad, desperate camps, where they survive on 800 calories a day, without proper homes in more than 110 degree heat. And they are dying by the thousands under these conditions according to the International Criminal Court Prosecutor.
NBC News | Ann Curry
Photograph for Darfurian refugees taken inside a camp building.
Is it really possible a new horror could be unleashed on these suffering souls?
As U.S. Envoy to Sudan, Major General Scott Gration can become a lifeline for people who have waited six years for one.
Many outsiders who have struggled to understand how to stop Darfur's tragedy are distracted by all the moving parts. They focus on the chaos that comes when any war lasts this long, on the many rebel groups it has spawned, and on whether global warming is to blame.
But they often fail to see it clearly and compassionately through the eyes of its civilian victims, members of three black African tribes. If they could, outsiders would see a people feeling threatened with extinction. And they would hear that the way to stop this tragedy is to make protecting civilians priority one.
General, they, more than anyone, are wishing you success.