Today Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice departs for her first trip to the Darfur region of Sudan, one year after Congress formally declared that the hundreds of thousands of killings, rapes and forced displacements occurring in Darfur constitute genocide.
Secretary Rice will have the opportunity to witness firsthand whether the steps taken by the Bush administration to stop the genocide have lived up to the promise that the pesident made in his second inaugural address: “[A]ll who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors.”
The answer is clear: the Bush administration has failed the people of Sudan and the cause of freedom.
There has been some progress made in the past year: the United States has increased its aid to the region to nearly $500 million, a separate and long-running civil war in Sudan between the north and the south has ended, and the ICC has begun the long but important process of bringing the perpetrators to justice.
None of these measures, however, is enough to stop genocide, as the secretary will see for herself.
If Secretary Rice and the Bush administration intend to bring an end to a genocide that has been unfolding since February 2003, they must immediately do the following:
- Provide $200 million for the immediate deployment of at least 4,000 additional African Union peacekeepers and personnel: The AU – whose peacekeepers are the sole protection provided by the international community for the citizen of Darfur – has agreed to expand its mission by at least 4,000 troops and personnel by September, but needs $200 million to do so. With fewer than 3,000 AU peacekeepers on the ground at present, this expansion is essential – yet the Bush administration announced on Friday that it would offer only $6 million to help deploy these additional troops.
- Support the bipartisan Darfur Peace and Accountability Act (HR 3127), which calls for a stronger African Union mandate, authorizes the United States to provide necessary support for the AU mission, and calls for the appointment of a special envoy to Sudan. The Bush administration has been hostile to proposed legislation from Congress over the past year, going so far as to demand that the Darfur Accountability Act be stripped from the supplemental bill last May. The administration must not block the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act of 2005.
- Apply coordinated international pressure on the Sudanese government through the U.N. Security Council. The presence of AU troops on the ground in Darfur is due not only to the AU’s commitment to stopping the genocide, but also to coordinated pressure on Khartoum by all members of the Security Council, including China and Russia. Over the past year, however, the U.S. has failed to engage the other members of the Security Council in developing and implementing a strategy for compelling Khartoum to abandon its own strategy of genocide.
Please also visit www.beawitness.org to find out how you can help increase media coverage of the crisis in Darfur.
Peter Ogden is the coordinator of the International Rights and Responsibilities Program at the Center for American Progress.