PROGRESS REPORT - An average 320 people die every single day in Sudan.
That's about 10,000 people every month. The recent State Department memo
on Human Rights found "genocide had been committed in Darfur, and the
Government and the Janjaweed bore responsibility." There are daily
reports of rapes, mutilations, torture, beatings and murder. U.N.
Secretary General Kofi Annan described the situation last week as
"little short of hell on earth." Yet so far, the response from the
White House has been shockingly muted and indefensibly passive.
Yesterday Congress finally stepped up to fill the leadership vacuum left
by the Bush administration. Senators Jon Corzine (D-NJ) and Sam
Brownback (R-KS) introduced the Darfur Accountability Act, legislation
calling for urgently needed action in Sudan. Corzine called the ongoing
atrocities in Darfur "probably the single largest moral challenge of our
time. It is absolutely essential that we respond to it." Brownback has
been equally adamant, saying, "We do not have days or weeks to spare
when millions of lives are in jeopardy.". . .
The Darfur Accountability Act calls for specific and urgently needed
actions including: calling for a presidential envoy for Sudan to work
with the international community to stop the killings; establishing a
military no-fly zone to stop the Sudanese government from bombing
civilians; expanding the African Union force; freezing the assets of
those responsible for the crimes; extending the arms embargo to Sudan;
and calling for new sanctions by the U.N. Security Council.
The government of Sudan has claimed it has no link to the ongoing and
systematic murder, rapes and torture. The LA Times reports, however,
that one of the top leaders of the murderous militia groups is now
acknowledging the government not only knew about the genocide but has
been directing it. Militia leader Musa Hilal told Human Rights Watch
that his group of killers was following orders from Sudan's government
and military. "All of the people in the field are led by top army
commanders…These people get their orders from the western command center
and from Khartoum."
The mass murder in Sudan is being monitored by African Union
peacekeepers. As Nicholas Kristoff points out, however, "The African
Union doesn't have the troops, firepower or mandate to actually stop the
slaughter, just to monitor it." Today, there are barely over 1,000
troops deployed to cover a region roughly the size of France. Last
September, Sen. Corzine joined forces with Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) to
pass an amendment that would provide $75 million to help the African
Union peacekeepers. That money has been set aside, but it has yet to be
REFUGEES INTERNATIONAL - Despite assertions by the government of Sudan
that peace is returning to Darfur, violence against civilians continues.
No one knows the exact number of deaths from the two-year brutal
conflict between rebel forces and the government of Sudan and its
largely Arab militias; some recent estimates put the toll as high as
300,000 due to military action, exposure, starvation and disease. And it
is rising each month.
Humanitarian workers say that as long as government officials believe
that they are immune from punishment for these actions, the violence
will go on. "We need to attack impunity. Sudan has to be held
accountable," says one worker in Darfur. The United Nation's
International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur concluded that government,
militia and rebel forces are guilty of violations of human rights and
international humanitarian law. It recommended that 51 people be
referred to the International Criminal Court. Yet, government officials
and tribal leaders continue to call the violence a series of tribal
disputes rather than military, militia and rebel actions that target