Sunday, December 24, 2006

Darfur philanthropy update

This follows up some suggestions I passed along--and possibly buried--in a previous item (Reflections on the Darfur student activism conference at Swarthmore).

For people who would like to contribute money to support ongoing efforts against the Darfur genocide, and who want to know how they can get the most bang for their buck, what follows is a compilation of advice I have received from a few informed sources.

=> In terms of political advocacy with a concrete practical focus, three interconnected organizations of student (or mostly student) activists are doing serious and effective work with limited financial resources--the Genocide Intervention Network, the Sudan Divestment Task Force, and STAND: A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition. They seem to be off the radar screen for many potential donors, so financial assistance to one of them (or all three) would be money well spent. Another option is Physicians for Human Rights, which Eric Reeves has described as the best of all the major human rights groups in their response to Darfur.

=> Humanitarian assistance for victims of the Darfur atrocity is also severely under-funded in relation to the overwhelming needs involved (quite aside from the fact that humanitarian relief organizations are being driven out of Darfur and eastern Chad by targeted violence and general chaos & insecurity). Of course, one ongoing focus of political advocacy is to press governments and international organizations for funding to support humanitarian relief operations. At the same time, contributions can also be sent directly to humanitarian relief organizations working with victims of the Darfur catastrophe, and I gather that two of the most effective and deserving of these groups are the International Rescue Committee and Save the Children/USA.

=> The Darfur Action Campaign of the American Jewish World Service has played a very active and effective role in both political advocacy and humanitarian relief. As an American Jew myself, I find this a source of pride. (Of course, such efforts have been used to fuel various anti-semitic conspiracy theories and assorted paranoid insinuations--but that sort of thing just goes with the territory.) This work can be supported by donations to the AJWS Sudan Relief and Advocacy Fund.

Yours in struggle,
Jeff Weintraub