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GLOBE EDITORIAL

Power in Darfur

JUST AS peace talks on Darfur were beginning in Abuja, Nigeria, Monday under the auspices of the African Union, a power failure forced an adjournment. There could hardly be a more apt allegory for the world's failure to stop the genocide that is being perpetrated in Darfur by Sudan's National Islamic Front regime.

The ethnic cleansers who rule from Khartoum go on bombing villagers of the Fur, Masalit, and Zagawa tribal peoples; the regime's Arab militia allies known as Janjaweed continue killing and raping and razing villages; and all the while Sudanese officials engage in diplomacy, dialogue, and peace talks. They promise to put a stop to the destruction of an entire population, but they never do.

What is happening in Darfur today is a protracted crime of genocide that has generated what the United Nations has called the world's number one humanitarian crisis. Estimates of the number of people already killed vary from a low of 70,000 to 350,000. Whatever the true number, the ultimate cause of death is Khartoum's policy of wiping out all the civilians in an area where local rebels have fought the central government.

Because more than 2 million tribal peoples have been displaced and because more than 3 million are in desperate need of food, shelter, and medical care, the ongoing genocide also confronts the governments of the world and international aid organizations with a monstrous humanitarian crisis.

Multitudes are crowded together at sites that are often guarded or surrounded by the same militias that killed their kin. When women and girls venture outside the camps to forage for firewood, they are commonly raped. The displaced of Darfur, who may already be dying at the rate of a thousand a day, can have no hope unless the outside world mounts an intensive humanitarian intervention.

Such an intervention requires enough of an accompanying military force to penetrate areas that are currently too dangerous for aid agencies. The displaced refugees have to be protected and kept alive with food, tents, and medicines. Safe corridors for the delivery of assistance must be opened up and patrolled. Ultimately, intervention forces must be large enough and strong enough to escort the displaced refugees back to their villages and enable them to revive their agricultural way of life.

Neither the 900 African Union monitors in Darfur nor the 3,500 African troops slated to arrive later are sufficient to resolve the humanitarian crisis and end the genocide. The nations of the world must demand that the UN Security Council authorize a much larger African Union force for Darfur, one with a mandate to protect and resettle the potential victims of genocide in their home villages. There should be no international power failure when it comes to ending a genocide. Neither the 900 African Union monitors in Darfur nor the 3,500 African troops slated to arrive later are sufficient to resolve the humanitarian crisis and end the genocide. The nations of the world must demand that the UN Security Council authorize a much larger African Union force for Darfur, one with a mandate to protect and resettle the potential victims of genocide in their home villages. There should be no international power failure when it comes to ending a genocide. 

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