Thursday, August 5, 2004

U.N. must keep pressure on Sudan


The United Nations must continue to pressure the Sudanese government and make sure it ends the genocide that has thrown the country in chaos.

Over the past 18 months, more than 30,000 people have been killed and more than 1 million displaced from their homes in Darfur, a western province of Sudan. The United States and others believe the Sudanese government authorized this terror to be carried out by Arab militias known as Janjaweed to crush a rebellion in the region by black African groups.

The United Nations should send an international coalition of troops, led by the African Union, to Darfur right now to help restore the homes of the displaced, and also help provide sorely needed food and medicine to refugees.

The United Nations took an important step Friday when it passed a U.S.-sponsored resolution that threatened Sudan with possible sanctions if the national government did not deal with the militias.

Despite the obvious evidence of the refugees and the killings, Sudan resists even acknowledging that it has a crisis.

A representative of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday that widespread human rights abuses are still occurring. Officials in Sudan's capital city of Khartoum on Tuesday made a milquetoast promise to boost its police force to up to 12,000 in Darfur to ensure protection of refugees as they return to their homes.

That is not enough protection for the innocents, according to the U.S. State Department.

"We believe and have believed the Sudanese government has a responsibility to act and to act quickly to stop the depredations of the Janjaweed militias," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. "They have a responsibility to turn off what they originally turned on, and they have a responsibility to withdraw all forms of support for the militias ..."

Again, it is not enough to take the word of Sudanese officials when they say they are trying to resolve the issue.

This is an international crisis that cannot be ignored.

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