Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Sometimes you despair of the Internet. It's all too easy to see it as a sales channel for porn, gambling and erectile pharmaceuticals.

Google Earth have added some content from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC to their satellite images of Darfur.

You can zoom in Darfur (it's in Sudan) and you're guided to some peculiar black markings on the ground. You can zoom in further and you realise that you are looking at burnt-out houses, thousands of them for miles and miles in each direction.

Every single one of the houses tells a story - usually a story involving the Sudanese government calling in an airstrike on the village, followed by their best mates the Janjaweed driving in to kill the surviving men, rape the surviving women and carry away anything portable before torching the place.

And we can see it ! I can then zoom the heck away to my own postcode where the view is reassuringly different. Then I can zoom back, and away and back and away. And you read the supporting information, about how the surviving women have to risk rape and death in order to gather firewood and find food for their families.

It's telling that it's the Holocaust museum that is involved. Would things have been different if the Internet were available in the 1940s and anyone could have called up satellite pictures of the Warsaw Ghetto, seen the smoke from the chimneys at Auschwitz, zoomed onto the parade ground at Dachau ?

I hope they are successful in their attempt to draw attention to this atrocity. The only people doing anything about the conflict just now are the African Union's 7000 troops, who are attempting to control an area the size of France.

Since I don't have any guns or tanks to blast the Janjaweed to Hades, I've had to content myself with giving to Oxfam, who are at least trying to help the survivors to survive.

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