Most students at Milken are familiar with Jewish World Watch (JWW), the organization dedicated to fighting genocide and the violation of human rights around the globe. Many students have participated in fundraisers, advocacy events and educational functions for JWW and its honorable efforts. As students, we understand that our support is valued and important, but what are we really pushing for? Who and what are our contributions helping, and why is it so important that we continue promoting this significant cause?
First and foremost, we need to know the facts. The Darfur region of Sudan is home to one of the world’s worst genocides. The Janjaweed, a militia group mainly composed of members of the local Arab tribes, carries out this massacre. The Janjaweed travels southward and conquers the land of Christian farmers to gain access to resources such as oil and farmland. In the process, the inhabitants of southern Sudan are mass-murdered and stripped of both their scant personal possessions and vital necessities. This devastation is heightened by the drought, overpopulation and desertification that scourge Sudan. It has proven to be extremely difficult for larger outside parties such as the United Nations to deliver aid to the victims. However, JWW has been able to provide significant assistance for the people of Sudan.
As a result of the conflict, approximately 3 million Sudanese people have been displaced and forced to relocate. Although the exact number is disputed, it is believed that about 200,000 to 400,000 people have died over the course of the conflict.
The Second Congo War is considered the deadliest since World War II; about 5.4 million people have died from war-related causes. Although the war has formally ended, the effects continue to destroy the country and its inhabitants. Basically, the Congolese conflict is caused by several armed militias that use violence to gain access to highly valued minerals that are found in the country of Congo. Once they gain access, they harvest the minerals and sell them to foreign companies, the profits of which go towards sustaining the ferocious militias. The corrupted leadership results in the major displacement and suffering of the Congolese citizens.
The militias also abuse the citizens and demolish their human rights. Rape is frequently used as a weapon, and Congolese girls and women live in constant fear of attack. Children are also abducted by the militias and forced to become soldiers, sometimes fighting against their own family and neighbors.
JWW maintains a number of facilities and projects benefitting victims in both Sudan and Congo. Currently operating is the Bukavu Burn Center in Congo, a medical treatment center funded by JWW and Moriah Africa, an Israeli aid team dedicated to helping victims of violence in Africa. Also operating are the Dillon Henry Youth Centers, safe havens for children living in refugee camps, and the Healing Arts and Animal Husbandry projects that aim to teach women vocational skills. These are a few among many other projects and facilities that benefit from the donations that JWW receives.
As Jews, we are obligated to reach out to those in need and perform tikkun olam (repair the world). We are commanded not to stand idly by while our neighbor bleeds, and JWW is an embodiment of this duty. When we provide support for their moral efforts, we are fulfilling our responsibility to make the world a better place, not only for those less fortunate that us, but for ourselves as well.