Darfur - Rwanda in the making
September 13, 2006
courtesy of Talking Points a publication of the American Progress Action Fund
The world may be only two weeks away from another Rwanda. On Sept. 30, the under-manned and under-funded African Union (AU) peacekeeping force in Darfur is set to leave the country. Those 7,000 A.U. troops—dispatched over a region the size of Texas—are the only forces moderating the attacks in Darfur, during which "civilians are usually killed, injured, raped, abducted or forcibly displaced." During the last two weeks, the Sudanese government has "dramatically intensified" its air strikes and worked "to drain the region of witnesses," including foreign journalists. If the AU forces leave on Sept. 30 as scheduled, as Eric Reeves warns, "this is a genocidal black box." President Bush cannot let this happen on his watch. (Take a moment to sign up with SaveDarfur.org and the Genocide Intervention Network, and see how your members of Congress have voted on Darfur at DarfurScores.org.)
- The Sudanese government is preparing to start the mass killings. The U.N. “plan to deploy as many as 17,500 U.N. troops and as many as 3,300 civilian police is contingent on consent by the government of Sudan, which has categorically rejected calls for U.N. forces in Darfur." "Ominously, the Khartoum government is preparing a new, massive military deployment, ostensibly to put down rebel forces before any U.N. peacekeepers arrive," writes the New Republic’s Tim Fernholz. "But Khartoum's tactics have not been those of counter-insurgency, or even total war. They have been the tactics of genocide." Fernholz cites a recent Amnesty International report describing "indiscriminate and disproportionate bombings on civilians and how the Janjaweed, government militias operating alongside the Sudanese army, target exclusively civilians."
- U.N Ambassador John Bolton has failed to lead on Darfur. "Silence gives consent," U.N. Ambassador John Bolton told reporters after the recent Security Council resolution passed. These are high-minded words for an ambassador who has consistently failed Darfur. In October 2005, Bolton blocked senior U.N. officials from briefing the Security Council on possible human rights violations in Sudan's Darfur region. "Bolton’s move was starkly opposed by Secretary General Annan and 11 Security Council members, including US allies." Last February, while Bolton was serving as president of the Security Council, his blustering approach "failed to persuade even some US allies in Africa and Asia to join the United States to authorize the deployment of UN troops to Sudan's Darfur province.
- While there are no simple answers, much more can be done to stop the genocide. Ending the "world's worst humanitarian crisis" will require a comprehensive political solution, and those take time. But there are simple, effective steps that can be taken immediately. President Bush needs to use his bully pulpit and organize maximum pressure to be placed on Sudan’s government to accept the U.N. forces. He needs to place an effective ambassador at the United Nations who can mobilize the international community—including Russia and China—to take action. Congress can also act—a bill sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that passed on Thursday will allocate $20 million for the African Union and acts to “facilitate the air-lifting of [AU] forces into the Darfur region as quickly as possible.” Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) has introduced a resolution in the Senate calling for President Bush to appoint a presidential envoy to Sudan and establish a no-fly zone over Darfur.
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