News & CommentaryArchive
Apr 14, 2007
Little More Than Warnings for Darfur
The New York Times reported this week that U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte has been deployed to Khartoum to meet with the Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. The purpose of the meeting is to again pressure al-Bashir to act definitively to end the conflict in the Western Sudan region of Darfur, and to take responsibility for the people who have died (200,000) or been displaced (2.5 million) in the conflict there.
This story unfortunately reads as very familiar. The conflict in Darfur between Darfurian rebel groups and the government-backed janjaweed militias has been raging since early 2003. Since that time, Western governments have been condemning the fighting, and much money has been committed to relief efforts, but there has been an almost universal reluctance to create clear consequences for Khartoum. As a result, al-Bashir officially denies support of the janjaweed and makes peace-building gestures, such as promising to allow a U.N. peacekeeping force into Darfur, but then refuses to follow through. Now, the U.S. government has expressed readiness to impose consequences on Khartoum for its inaction. Among the proposed sanctions are a no-fly zone over Darfur, travel restrictions against government officials, and restrictions on U.S.-backed companies that do business in Sudan. But the U.N. has asked for more time for diplomacy, thus far with little result.
Meanwhile, Darfur has long since ceased to be only about Darfur. The Darfur conflict is putting stress on the existing peace agreements between Khartoum and Southern Sudan. In addition, janjaweed are crossing borders to attack villages and refugee camps in Chad and are now also spreading south into the Central African Republic.
Recognizing the effectiveness of global public pressure in fighting genocide, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, in collaboration with Google Maps, has set up a “Crisis in Darfur” initiative that shows where attacks have taken place to give the public a better understanding of its immediacy and severity. Such initiatives show not an “exaggeration” of violence, as Khartoum claims, but are crucial to helping illustrate what is really happening. Better information for the general public will hopefully turn up the presure on policy makers to hold Khartoum accountable for the on-going genocide.
New York Times: U.S. Sends (Another) Warning on Darfur
Holocaust Museum/Google Maps: Darfur in Crisis