Friday, September 08, 2006

World must not fail Darfur a fourth time

By Julie Flint

In May this year, the US deputy secretary of state, Robert Zoellick, told rebel leaders attending the Darfur peace talks, in much these words: "Sign or be damned." The United States had determined that peace could be forced, that a lasting agreement could be ordered like a plate of fries, and had set a deadline that was going to be observed come hell or high water. Only one rebel leader signed. The remainder, representing a majority of Darfurians, requested modifications to the peace agreement, but were told: "Time's up. Take it or leave it."

They left it.

Four months later, the result of this high-handed impatience is, predictably, hell. With little more than three weeks remaining before the expiry of the mandate of the African Union's 7,000-man monitoring force in Darfur, there is no agreement on the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force to replace it. Instead, the Sudanese government has announced a plan to deploy 26,500 of its own troops in Darfur by the end of the year and has embarked upon a new military offensive to reconquer rebel-controlled areas. Violence, rape and displacement have all increased dramatically and the UN's most senior humanitarian official, Jan Egeland, has warned that "hundreds of thousands" of Darfurians could die if the insecurity that has claimed the lives of 12 aid workers since May makes relief operations unsustainable. Read more >>>

No comments: