Thursday, August 02, 2007

Update on the Crisis in Darfur 8-3-07: The Hypocrite is in the Details -- Keep the Pressure On!

Image: UNICEF Child Alert

Today, Africa Action emphasized that Khartoum must be held accountable to its commitments, that the process of deployment must begin immediately, and that the U.S. must demonstrate leadership in working towards a peacekeeping deployment. ... The UN resolution authorizes a deployment of 26,000, creating the world’s largest peacekeeping mission, and will boost the current AU peacekeeping force of 7,000. Africa Action, 8-1-07

This is an appropriate point at which to introduce a note of caution. I wonder how many of those excitedly announcing this "breakthrough" on our news bulletins were aware that the security council passed an almost identical resolution last August? ... The main problem highlighted in the report - and one that is plain to anyone who has followed the tragedy of Darfur - is the cynicism and malevolence of the government in Khartoum. ... David Clark, Khartoum is no friend of this fresh resolve on Darfur, Guardian, 8-2-07

Aid workers were sharp in their criticism of the new peacekeeping force for Darfur championed by Gordon Brown, warning yesterday that it is unlikely to alleviate suffering in the region. They said that "grey areas" in the mandate of the joint United Nations and African Union mission agreed by the UN Security Council on Tuesday left it unclear as to how effective it would be in countering attacks on civilians. ... "Why will it take six months to assemble the force when, in the words of Gordon Brown, this is the worst tragedy in the world? Where is the urgency? ... "It would appear that the international force will monitor the situation and only be allowed to use force when attacked. Unless this force has real clout they are better off staying at home." Mike Pflanz, Aid workers criticise UN Darfur force, Telegraph, 8-2-07

Update on the Crisis in Darfur 8-3-07: The Hypocrite is in the Details -- Keep the Pressure On!

By Richard Power

Darfur is the worst refugee crisis in the world (although Iraq is giving it some unhealthy competition). Two and a half million people have been displaced. Hundreds of thousands (some Pollyannas say 200,000, but it is probably more like 400,000) have died. Thousands more die every month.

All sane, decent, informed human beings want the UN Security Council's resolve to translate into the beginning of the end for the crime against humanity being perpetrated in Darfur.

But in this hard rain world, if you want to wish, it is best to do it with your eyes open.

So let me put this latest development in personal terms for you.

Imagine your sister or daughter was being stalked by a man whose identity and address was known to the authorities, and whose intent to do her harm was unmistakable. Imagine how you would feel if the authorities told you that there had been a breakthrough in the case, and that they would be issuing a restraining order and putting a tracking bracelet on him -- in five months. And furthermore, imagine that they were only going to monitor the stalker's adherence to the restraining order, i.e., the bracelet was not going to be locked into place, and they were not going to remove the weapons from his house. How would you feel? What desperate actions would you consider taking on your own?

Well, the people of Darfur are your sisters and daughters, and they are being stalked by a killer, and this is the plan that the UN Security Council has come up with to help them -- after many months of debate.

The hypocrite is in the details, i.e., the rules of engagement.

Will the UN blue helmets kick ass and take names if they have to? That's the question. Will the UN Security Council make it clear that the UN peacekeepers will not abandon the people of Darfur to the aggressors -- under any circumstances? It is that simple.

Remember Rwanda? There was a UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda, it was withdrawn when it was needed most.

Someone must exhibit boldness. This is an opportunity for Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy to prove their worth as human beings entrusted with great responsibility. (Nothing good can originate from the Bush-Cheney national insecurity team. They have had seven years to prove me wrong.) The British, the French, and other participating nations, must rush to deploy forces, and once those forces are deployed, they need to make it clear that the attacks must end.

Karthoum will twist words and deeds to undermine this agreement; therefore, those nations committed to the UN peacekeeping force should twist words and deeds to enforce it.

As the agreement was signed earlier this week at UN headquarters, Allyn Brooks-LaSure, speaking for the Save Darfur Coalition, implored the world's leaders to must the "determined political will" to implement the resolution and to surpass the measure’s glacial timeline by deploying peacekeepers to Darfur as they are recruited:

“The true test of this measure is not what happens today in New York, but what happens over the coming weeks in Darfur.
Even after efforts by Sudan and its allies, notably China and South Africa, to water down the resolution, it includes key measures long advocated by Save Darfur, most importantly reliance on Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, a mandate to protect civilians, and unified U.N. command and control. All of these measures, however, will require U.N. vigilance in implementation. These and other elements make the resolution an adequate basis for effective peacekeeping and protection for Darfur's people – if the U.N. member states match it with strong political will, and if they work hard to recruit and deploy the thousands of troops and police it authorizes.
America's most urgent priority should be to ensure this resolution does not meet the fate of last year’s Security Council Resolution 1706 – consigned to the dustbin of history by President al-Bashir's obstruction in concert with international passivity. There can be no doubt that Khartoum will attempt to obstruct implementation of this resolution as well. World leaders, and especially members of the Security Council, have now associated their prestige with this latest resolution, and they will be to blame if it fails. This time they must stop Sudanese stonewalling and obstruction and make this peacekeeping force succeed.
And world leaders must surpass the modest deployment timelines set out in this resolution by progressively deploying peacekeepers to Darfur as quickly as they are recruited. According to certain U.N. officials, recruiting the entirety of this force will take a year – time the people of Darfur can not spare. If the U.N. waits for one ‘big bang’ deployment, sending nobody until everybody is ready, untold thousands more will die.
The promise of effective civilian protection and peacekeeping in today's resolution will be realized only if the international community shows determined political will to make it work. The world has failed Darfur on past occasions, condemning millions to a horrific fate. World leaders must do better this time.”
Save Darfur, 7-31-07

If you want to help save Darfur, here are sites that will show you how:

Save Darfur!
Enough: The Project to End Genocide and Mass Atrocities
Genocide Intervention Network
Mia Farrow

Click here for a Words of Power Archive of posts on the Crisis in Darfur

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