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Situation in Darfur bleak



Published: Sat, September 2, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Miami Herald: The United Nations has one more opportunity to help the desperate refugees in the Darfur region of Sudan who have been victims of the worst human-rights tragedy since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

After years of foot-dragging, the Security Council has before it a clear-cut resolution that would create a U.N.-mandated force to assume peacekeeping duties in the region.

Failure to act now would be a cruel betrayal of the U.N. Charter and everything the world body is supposed to stand for.

Passing one more resolution will not by itself resolve the crisis, but it's a start. The mandate of the 7,000-member African Union force currently in Darfur expires at the end of September. This force has been doing its best, but it is both badly equipped and under-financed.

As a result, conditions in Darfur have deteriorated. U.N. officials said that more aid workers were killed in Darfur in July than during the past three years of conflict. "It is going from really bad to catastrophic in Darfur," said Jan Egeland, the U.N. emergency-relief coordinator.

The proposal that U.S. Ambassador John Bolton and his British counterpart have been working on would provide up to 17,300 troops for Darfur. Even if this is approved, there is no guarantee that U.N. members can assemble a force this large by the end of September. But without a resolution, nothing can be done.

Western 'conspiracy'

The resolution would be one more way to put pressure on Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who has dropped all pretense of trying to work with the international community and now tries to portray outside efforts to help the victims of Darfur as a Western "conspiracy" to recolonize Sudan. He offers, instead, to send a Sudanese force of 10,500 to replace the African Union force in Darfur.

This is chutzpah of a high order. It is incomprehensible that a government that has armed and supported the so-called janjaweed thugs who have massacred the people of Darfur would now seriously propose to bring peace to the region. His offer is a negotiating ploy that the Security Council should ignore.




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