On the most recent developments:
The shame of Darfur continues. Despite recent advances we must not turn our eyes away now. At present please note:
*** The UN Food Agency recently announced it would cut food rations in half for 3 million refugees due to attacks on workers and insufficient funding. Meanwhile, the government of Chad is threatening to expel the 200,000 Darfur refugees who have spilled over the border to seek refuge.
*** As usual, the UN is dragging its feet and announced yesterday that deployment of a UN force will take 6 months. This despite the fact that, by the UN’s own estimates, the death toll may soon reach 100,000 a month. President Bush, the only world leader to call the bloodbath in Darfur by its right name, genocide (the UN charter would mandate that they act if they called it genocide- the reason for the waffling on the word in the case of Rwanda), has announced that he is sending Condoleeza Rice to push for a speedier transition to a more effective and equipped UN peace keeping force from the outgunned African Union Army.
Below is the First Things blog commentary that I am drawing on here.
Last fall, in “The Shame of Darfur,” Allen Hertzke called on America’s religious communities to awaken to the genocide happening in western Sudan. The essay prompted strong letters to the editor from such activists as Chuck Colson and Michael Horowitz, for Hertzke pulled no punches—and he named figures he thought could be doing more, among them Gary Bauer.
It was thus significant that on Friday Bauer and his organization American Values called on his friends and supporters to urge the U.S. government and the United Nations to support intervention in the region. Bauer writes:
I was encouraged last week to learn of the partial peace agreement between the government of Sudan and a main rebel group representing the people of Sudan’s Darfur region. After two years, and six rounds of negotiations, the two sides finally signed a deal that may be the first step to ending the violence in which as many as 400,000 people have been killed and at least 3 million left homeless and on the verge of starvation. Despite the breakthrough, I remain skeptical about the prospects for peace.
Many of you may not be fully aware of what is going on in Darfur, so here’s a brief overview. Early in 2005, President Bush helped negotiate a peace agreement between northern and southern Sudan, ending Africa’s longest-running civil war. While significant, that agreement didn’t end the government-sponsored genocide taking place in Sudan’s western region of Darfur, where bands of men on horseback are responsible for the raping, killing, torture, mutilation, and displacement of millions of people. Things seemed to improve last year, when the government promised to rein in its death squads. But the promise proved hollow, and the regime stepped up its killing machine, expanding attacks to include relief workers trying to feed and aid refugees. The UN Food Agency recently announced it would cut food rations in half for 3 million refugees due to attacks on workers and insufficient funding. Meanwhile, the government of Chad is threatening to expel the 200,000 Darfur refugees who have spilled over the border to seek refuge. President Bush has led the way in addressing the situation in Darfur. Besides being the only world leader willing to stand up and call the bloodbath in Darfur by its rightful name, genocide, he has repeatedly stated that the United States would play a pivotal role in helping exchange an outgunned African Union Army for a well-trained United Nations force of peacekeepers. On Monday, Bush announced that Condoleezza Rice would be dispatched to press the UN to accelerate the transition. As usual, the UN is dragging its feet and announced yesterday that deployment of a UN force will take 6 months. This despite the fact that, by the UN’s own estimates, the death toll may soon reach 100,000 a month.
American Values supports the immediate intervention of a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, and we encourage the president and Congress to do everything possible to keep Sudan accountable to the peace agreement it signed.