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Darfur Needs U.S. Leadership Now

Rhetorical commitment to protecting innocent lives is no longer enough; we must take concrete steps to stop the genocide.

The Bush administration warned Sudan recently that it must allow UN personnel into Darfur immediately, and an international force into the region by the end of this year—or else. Or else what? Any U.S. action is unspecified. Rhetorical commitment to protecting innocent lives is no longer enough; we must take concrete steps to back up these words.

More than 200,000 have been killed and 2.5 million displaced, and the numbers keep growing by the day.

The situation continues to deteriorate. Earlier this week the UN evacuated 71 aid workers from the largest refugee camp in Darfur, located in Gereida, after more than 20 gunmen raided their compounds on December 18. This was the eighth evacuation of endangered workers this month. The UN airlift left 130,000 refugees at the camp without relief assistance.

Andrew Natsios, the president’s special envoy for Sudan has said that the United States will follow its own strategic process, mysteriously called “plan B”—which it will start in the new year if there is no progress in Sudan

But the United States cannot continue to wait and waver in ongoing genocide in Darfur. It must be prepared to work with international partners to take coercive action to force Khartoum to stop the killing

We must take action now by:

  • Working closely with other donor nations to ensure the existing African Union force is fully until the AU/UN hybrid international force is deployed to Darfur.
  • Supporting a Chapter VII preventive deployment force to Chad and the Central African Republic to protect civilians and ensure stability.
    Outlining U.S. plans for obtaining UNSC support for multilateral targeted sanctions on senior government officials and the ruling National Congress Party, consistent with UNSC 1706.
  • Describing planning for U.S. military participation in support of a no-fly zone imposed over Darfur.
  • Detailing planning for U.S. military and diplomatic support of the rapid deployment of the UN peacekeeping force in the event of Khartoum’s acceptance of UNSC 1706.
  • Outlining military and diplomatic contingency plans, including in cooperation with other countries, to constitute and deploy the protection force non-military coercive measurews fail to persuade the government of Sudan to allow a robust international peacekeeping presence.
  • Empowing Special Envoy Natios to work with AU, EU and UN counterparts to reconvene negotiations with stakeholders to amend the Dafur Peace Agreement (DPA) to address issues such as victims compensation, dismantling the Janjaweed, safe return for refugees and IDP, and power sharing arrangements for political opposition groups.

In 2004, one year after the violence flared, the President, then Secretary of State Colin Powell and the Congress used the term genocide to describe the deadly assault sponsored by the Sudanese government. However this rhetoric has not been met by action. Today estimated 200,000+ people have died in Darfur, 3.5 million depend on humanitarian assistance and 2.5  million people displaced.

The United States has sat on the sidelines and watched the situation in this region deteriorate as more lives are taken or ruined. It’s time for us to act, and the time is now.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund released a memo in November urging the 110th Congress to take steps to stop the genocide in Darfur during its first 100 days in session. View the full agenda here:

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