“Why does the world not care about us?”.

Thomas Sadoski
7 min readFeb 16, 2024


In over 15 years of working on and advocating for refugee and humanitarian causes, this excruciating question is the one I have heard more than any other. Usually it is asked of me as I sit quietly in cramped, broken spaces, emotionally disassembled but nodding along to the tears of those who describe horrific accounts of sexual violence, wrongful imprisonment, abuse, and oppression.

Of course, it is an impossible question to have to answer; largely because to do so honestly would only add further anguish: the “world” rarely ever cares as much as it should. The evidence is all around us; U.S. development assistance is less than one fifth of one percent (0.2%) of the federal budget and, relative to our national wealth, ranks 22nd of 38 OECD countries. Reread that. At a time when the world is facing the largest refugee and displacement crisis in known history, with estimates of a record 110 million people forced from their homes as a result of armed violence, poverty and climate change, the United States will not dare eclipse A THIRD OF 1% of our budget to help develop long term solutions. American aid to sub-Saharan Africa equals about 25 cents per citizen, per day. By contrast, military spending comes to more than $5 per person, per day. And please remember that $5 figure contains unfathomable corruption and waste: in 2022 auditors were unable to account for 61% of the Pentagon’s assets, and it has failed its audits for 5 consecutive years. The shining city on the hill is a preening ignis fatuus.

As Americans we — aware or not, willing to admit it or not — through bipartisan hubris, foreign policy blunders and other nauseating geopolitical machinations, share undeniable responsibility for a considerable portion of innocent human suffering the whole world over. Do we care?

To be clear, the United States has also generously and steadfastly supported military and humanitarian efforts, most recently in Israel and Ukraine. We are the single largest global contributor to both countries with Ukraine receiving more than $113 billion since February 2022…and counting. But this extraordinary benevolence has come at heavy cost for those being decimated by war outside of Europe’s borders. For example, the global humanitarian appeals for the Democratic Republic of Congo ($2.6 billion), a conflagration which has claimed more than 5 million lives — earning it the harrowing distinction of being the worst war in African history — and now Sudan (updated appeal figure at $4 billion) — where over 7 million human beings have been displaced in the past year and where an ungodly famine and its attendant disease outbreak is about explode — have received less than half the financial commitments needed to offset the humanitarian catastrophes that will soon be utterly and staggeringly dire.

Americans, and our government in particular, should be deeply concerned about these conflicts and their implications. The ability for Sudanese to provide for their own country and make use of its resources is utterly crippled, not primarily by internal conflict but through external depravity. It is estimated that between 50 and 80% of Sudan’s massive gold production is smuggled out of the country. To whit: the late psychopath Yevgeni Prigozhin’s Russian paramilitary Wagner Group has been active in both the DRC and Sudan, noxiously extracting billions in revenues from these suffering and war-ravaged countries through mining and arms deals, circumventing Western sanctions against Vladimir Putin and arming warring factions. In total, the Wagner Group is linked to more than a dozen African countries, pilfering resources at a time of heightened food insecurity and armed violence, thus sounding a death knell for the innocent civilians left in their larcenous wake.

Additionally, there is a very real threat that Sudan has already become a new front in the Iran/ UAE influence-expanding proxy war as both regimes have begun to provide drones, munitions and support to the warring SAF and RSF forces, respectively. If Yemen is an indication, the resulting suffering of the innocent will be oceanic. A resurgent ISIS, too, has been rampaging across swaths of the continent, enveloping various rebel and militia groups. Last June, an ISIS-linked group attacked a school in Uganda, massacring at least 41 children and staff, gunning them down and bludgeoning them with machetes before lighting them on fire.

These are the horrors that victims want “the world” to care about, but — again — do we?

In the same week of the butchery of children in Uganda, the governor of West Darfur, Sudan, was violently executed providing more concrete evidence that the situation there was deteriorating rapidly and that profound suffering imminent. While this was happening (and with nauseating irony, coinciding with World Refugee Day) a boat carrying desperate refugees sunk in the Mediterranean killing over 700 people and yet almost every major American media outlet was running near cyclopedic coverage of the lost Titan submersible and its five, ultra wealthy occupants that went to have a ghoulish tour of the world’s greatest metaphor. Remember that? Vaguely? That is not to suggest that their loss was not deeply felt by their friends and families, but should it have obscured these significantly bigger, more important tragedies? Must our attention spans, our journalism, along with our institutional empathy and compassion, be so mawkishly, sordidly, stupidly finite?

15,000 people have been killed in the town of El Geneina, West Darfur, including the absolutely monstrous slaughter of Masalit children- where War Child Canada/USA — an international humanitarian organization I am deeply involved with — has been on the ground for almost two decades. Our team there is extraordinary, staying behind as long as they could and working fearlessly to support Sudanese women and children even when much of the world’s attention has been monstrously negligible and fleeting. You may recall that “Save Darfur’’ was a popular and hip Hollywood effort in the early 2000s. Any number of colleagues of mine walked red carpets adorned with ribbons, wristbands or t-shirts to that end. Sadly, Darfur still needed “saving” in 2015, 2020 and 2022, but seemingly everyone had exited stage righteous for something new. There were no more sponsored events, even as Darfurians continued to horribly suffer under war and fear.

And lest you roll your eyes, here is the damage that kind of capricious care does: when the awakened attention fades, so too do almost all of the donors willing to support humanitarian organizations like War Child, teams who are made up of globally anonymous individuals doing frontline work at unimaginable personal risk. News organizations, even “the best”, no longer offer or invest in as much coverage. With the public and media abdicating, governments feel less pressure to help, so they don’t. And so the shades are drawn. More people bleed. More children are swallowed by war’s insatiable maw into armed groups, scorched killing fields and mass graves. More women and girls are tortured or violently raped as a tool of war. Starvation razes bodies, minds and souls. The cycle continues. Evil is patient, steadfast and relentless. And it feeds on precisely the kind of hopelessness that comes from seeing a fleeting but extinguished spark of rescue.

As I write this our staff in Sudan — amidst a relentless siege of their streets, schools, and towns — remain trapped alongside their fellow citizens by a bloodbath few of us can comprehend. In the tumult, one thing is clear: they and the innocent people they help need an immediate intervention to stop hostilities and sustained governmental, institutional and donor support to survive the aftermath. But the conflict in Sudan and the suffering of the Sudanese doesn’t lend itself to the kind of easy and low-cost outrage that defines the current climate. Are Darfurians and their history of colonial misery and decades of post-colonial suffering at the hands of global grift and apathy not worthy of activist student groups, bellicose academics and city or state issued resolutions? Where is the furor over the 25 million Sudanese in desperate need of food assistance? Where the hell are the protests on behalf of the one child who is dying every hour in North Darfur’s Zamzam camp? Seen any celebrity letters of support for Sudan? Influencer-lead donation campaigns? It is, after all, “one of the worst humanitarian nightmares in recent history,” according to the U.N. Undersecretary-General, Martin Griffiths.

Do you care?

I have learned, from my time spent in the humbling and hallowed presence of those suffering the privation of active conflict and with the haunted survivors of war, that there is only one viable answer to their impossible question: I do not know why the world fails them. But I believe in the power and virtue of people, when they know these stories. Demand that they be told. Inundate the social media feeds of reporters, networks, influencers and lawmakers. Overwhelm the emails of mayors, governors, congress. Keep going until you hear these stories. Make time to listen. Take action.

Caring is not the easy way; it is the only way.

War Child Canada in action. Photo via WarChild.ca

You can set up a monthly donation to help War Child’s work in Sudan and DRC by giving to either War Child USA or War Child Canada. Monthly donations, even $10/ month, add up quickly and allow organizations to plan and build programs more effectively.



Thomas Sadoski

INARA—board of directors; Fortify Rights— advisory council; Refugees International— board member emeritus. Actor. Human Rights Activist.