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Death in the Sudan.

Byline: The Register-Guard

A full season has passed since the U.N. Security Council gave the government in Sudan one month to stop its campaign of ethnic cleansing in the region of Darfur. Yet the killing by government troops and militias continues.

If President Bush is serious about spreading freedom from oppression throughout the Muslim world, there is no more fitting place to start than in Darfur. More than 70,000 people already have died and 1.8 million have been displaced during two years of fighting, and the death toll could reach 300,000.

There no longer can be any doubt that Sudan's government cannot be trusted to stop the killing. Within hours after the government agreed to a peace deal Tuesday aimed at ending violence in Darfur, Sudanese security forces attacked the Al Jeer-Sureaf camp, burning and bulldozing shelters, beating residents and firing tear gas into a health clinic.

The maddeningly slow and ineffective response to what is widely recognized as genocide in Sudan is a disgrace. U.N. Security Council members have talked for months about deploying an African Union force to protect civilians, but so far there are only a few hundred troops on the ground. Meanwhile, the attacks continue, and civilians are being massacred, raped, tortured, robbed and kidnapped.

Darfur's descent into chaos began in early 2003 when African tribes rebelled against the Arab-led government. The government responded by bombing villages, arming militias known as "janjaweed" and excluding humanitarian workers.

Months of global dithering ensued, as world leaders debated whether to use the "G" word - genocide, which carries international treaty obligations to intervene. Briefly earlier this year, the world seemed ready to respond.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan visited Sudan and warned the Khartoum regime to stop killing civilians. The Security Council approved resolutions condemning the abuses and threatening sanctions.

Since then, however, international will has weakened. An African Union force, which is supposed to number 3,500, has been excruciatingly slow to deploy, and even at full strength will be inadequate to protect civilians in a region the size of France.

Meanwhile, ludicrous U.N. restrictions limit them to observer status; a small contingent of Nigerian peacekeepers stood by near Al Jeer-Sureaf as security forces attacked refugees.

The Security Council has scheduled a special session in Nairobi next week to discuss the situation. The United States and other member nations must waste no more time negotiating with Sudanese leaders and should immediately impose economic sanctions, as well as arms and oil embargoes. Meanwhile, the United States and its NATO allies should speed up deployment of peacekeeping troops, and the U.N. should authorize them to take military action to save civilians.

The Bush administration should dust off its diplomacy skills and persuade Security Council members Russia and China to back off veto threats. There is no need to wait until completion of a final report from a U.N. special commission several weeks from now before taking action.

The attack on Al Jeer-Sureaf and other recent atrocities make it clear that further delay will only cause more lives to be lost.

The choice could not be more clear. The world must either intervene - and do so decisively and forcefully - or sit back and watch as genocide devours Darfur.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Editorials; The world can no longer delay intervention
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Nov 12, 2004
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