The United Nations said on Friday it would cut food rations for more than 6 million people in Sudan, half of them in Darfur, due to a severe lack of funds.

Many donor countries appear to have tired of the long-term conflict in Darfur, despite signs that malnutrition is again on the rise among people living in squalid camps, the United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP) said. ~MSNBC

One simple reason why Darfur does not register with most Westerners is that the Sudan really is a place very far away about which we (or most of us) know nothing. The conflict there is explicitly political and territorial. Talk of genocide profoundly misrepresents what is going on there. It is a nasty and ugly internal war for control of land and water. Not all of the victims are black Africans, though many are, but belong to marginal tribes who compete with Arab groups for scarce resources. Dissatisfied with their situation, a Darfurian rebel group made the colossal error of rising up against Khartoum and they and their many innocent neighbours are now reaping the whirlwind. This is tragic, and this is awful to see, but it is inextricably bound up in a Sudanese civil war that the West is not going to be able to solve militarily without either plunging the country into anarchy or setting up an even more expensive occupation of the country (though where the soldiers would come from is a mystery to all), which would in turn encounter its own insurgency redolent of the followers of the Mahdi in the 19th century.

The shortfall in funding for something as basic and relatively easy as food and medicine–which, if we are to provide anything, it is these things that we should be providing–should tell us that another do-gooding interventionist mission to stabilise yet another blighted African country has little or no purchase on Western minds, particularly Americans who still remember the mess in Somalia. Iraq has been the war to end all nation-building, and if the allegedly “most modern” Arab state in the region does not take well to nation-building (and it does not) the Sudan would be even more hopeless.