Where Mercy Fails: Darfur's Struggle to Survive

This is reportage at its finest. Insightful words and poignant images describe what some have characterized as the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time. Yet it's also a political and environmental crisis, and an intimately personal one as well, as veteran journalists Chris Herlinger and Paul Jeffrey skillfully document in this timely resource on the continuing crisis in Darfur.

New Book by Chris Herlinger & Paul Jeffrey
Foreword by Desmond Tutu


This is reportage at its finest. Insightful words and poignant images describe what some have characterized as the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time. Yet it's also a political and environmental crisis, and an intimately personal one as well, as veteran journalists Chris Herlinger and Paul Jeffrey skillfully document in this timely resource on the continuing crisis in Darfur.

"Where Mercy Fails brings us face to face with the human dimensions of this crisis. . . I commend it as required reading for all caring people who wish to understand this intractable problem and who want to give an informed moral response."  - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

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Links to news about Darfur and groups involved in responding to the crisis there.

About the Authors:

Paul Jeffrey, a United Methodist missionary photojournalist, lived in Latin America for two decades and has filed stories and images from more than 60 countries around the world. His work has appeared in media ranging from The Christian Century to the Chicago Tribune to National Geographic Explorer. Paul has interviewed newsmakers from Jimmy Swaggart to Evo Morales, and been interviewed himself by Bill Moyers, Amy Goodman, and the BBC. His photos have been exhibited in North America, Europe, and Australia. He has won Catholic Relief Services' Eileen Egan Award four times, the top magazine photography award of the Associated Church Press, and awards for best international news writing and best photo story from the Catholic Press Association. Author of Recovering Memory, a book on the role of faith communities in the Guatemalan peace process, Paul holds a Master of Divinity degree from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley - which named him a Distinguished Alumnus in 2001. He lives in Oregon.

Chris Herlinger, a writer with the humanitarian organization Church World Service, is a freelance journalist whose stories for Religion News Service have appeared in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. His reporting from Darfur has appeared in RNS, Catholic News Service, Ecumenical News International, The Christian Century, National Catholic Reporter, and Harvard Divinity Bulletin, and won Chris the Eileen Egan Award from Catholic Relief Services and the DeRose-Hinkhouse Award from the Religion Communicators Council.. He holds master's degrees from Union Theological Seminary and Cambridge University and has been a resident fellow of Harvard Divinity School, and a visiting fellow at Yale Divinity School. He lives in New York City.

From the Introduction

Does the violence in Darfur constitute genocide? Some claim it fails to meet the strict definition of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, summed up in the Convention as an "intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such." A 2005 U.N. report argued that in the case of Darfur, "genocidal intent appears to be missing." Yet the same report warned that this conclusion "should not be taken in any way as detracting from the gravity of . . .the crimes against humanity and war crimes that have been committed in Darfur [and which] may be no less serious and heinous than genocide."

The government of Sudan has systematically denied the accusations of genocide, especially after the 2008 action by the International Criminal Court to indict Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Whether we can call it genocide is not a mere exercise in semantics. The international community, under the rubric of its doctrine on the "responsibility to protect," is required to intervene to protect civilians whose security cannot be guaranteed by their own government. Yet in the years since the R2P was adopted by the UN in 2005, the violence in Darfur has been a damning indictment of the international community's predilection for empty words.

More important than whether the violence constitutes genocide or not is the nagging question of whether we have done enough to stop it. Never has so much attention been paid to a campaign of violence like this while it was still in process. Never has there been so much public clamor for the world to put an end to a genocide in progress. And yet all the protests, all the "Not on Our Watch" bracelets, all the prayer vigils and letters to politicians, at the end of the day, have done little to change the situation on the ground. The question that remains is not whether what is happening in Darfur is genocide. It is why we allow the violence, whatever we call it, to continue.