Stop the genocide in Darfur region, Sudan

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, July 21, 2005

The leaders of the richest countries in the world have just completed three days of discussion. A large part of their conversation centered on fighting poverty in the developing world. But the elephant in the room, which President Bush and other leaders barely acknowledged, and the press failed to challenge them on, is the ongoing genocide that is occurring in Darfur, Sudan.

Up to 400,000 people have lost their lives in Darfur since the government-sponsored genocide began in 2003. More than 2.5 million people have been displaced; their livelihoods and villages destroyed by government forces and their proxy militias, and many thousands of women and girls have been raped by these forces.

Recent reports confirm that the violence continues in Darfur, and that the security situation is still intolerable. The government of Sudan continues to obstruct humanitarian operations, creating famine conditions for millions of vulnerable innocents.

As the death toll in Darfur continues to mount at a rate of 1,500 per month, it is clear that nothing short of a strong international intervention can protect the people of Darfur. The African Union (AU) is doing what it can on the ground in the face of growing insecurity, but desperately needs greater help. According to a May 2005 Zogby poll, more than 80 percent of Americans support strong American action to stop the killing.

President Bush must assert American leadership to galvanize an international intervention to stop the genocide. A first step would be to call on Congress to pass the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, which calls for increased support of the AU, stopping the Sudanese government from using aircraft to attack civilians, bringing the killers and rapists to justice, and dispatching high-level U.S. diplomats to foster the peace process.

As Americans and as human beings, we have a moral obligation to stop the inhumanity of genocide. After previous genocides, politicians thumped their chests and said "never again." If we really mean it, now is the time to act to stop the slaughter.

Melissa Howell


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