FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Africa Action
New Year Brings No Resolution to Worsening Darfur Crisis
Africa Action Condemns International Capitulation to Khartoum on
New Diplomatic Initiatives Must Secure Necessary Protection for Civilians
WASHINGTON - January 9 - As violent attacks increase across Darfur, and as the humanitarian crisis that forms part of the genocide continues to escalate, Africa Action today condemned the lack of progress by the international community in realizing the necessary United Nations (UN) peacekeeping force to protect the people of Darfur.
Africa Action welcomed the stated commitment of new UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to prioritizing Darfur, and noted new diplomatic overtures on the part of the U.S., aimed at advancing new action on this crisis. However, the organization emphasized the urgency of the situation on the ground and the ongoing deadlock between the Sudanese government and the international community on the size and composition of a peacekeeping force. Africa Action continues to call for the rapid deployment of a robust UN peacekeeping force, with a Chapter VII mandate, to stop the ongoing genocide in Darfur.
Nii Akuetteh, Executive Director of Africa Action, said today, "Despite hopeful media reports, there has been no diplomatic breakthrough on Darfur and the death toll is continuing to mount. The international community has capitulated to Khartoum's opposition to a UN force, and the people of Darfur have been abandoned to the growing violence on the ground. The UN Security Council must stand up to the Sudanese government NOW, and pursue the deployment of the robust UN peacekeeping force authorized by Resolution 1706 last August."
As U.S. Special Envoy Andrew Natsios travels to China this week to discuss the Darfur crisis, Africa Action's new report released last month, entitled "Leveraging New International Action on Darfur", lays out how the U.S. can and must engage China and other key international actors in breaking the current deadlock and achieving the necessary UN peacekeeping force for Darfur. The report is available here: http://www.africaaction.org/resources/page.php?op=read&documentid=2235&type=6&issues=1024/
Ann-Louise Colgan, Director of Policy Analysis & Communications at Africa Action, said today, "New U.S. diplomatic initiatives on Darfur must use all available leverage and political capital to advance the goal of protecting civilians on the ground. As Natsios visits China this week, he must use Washington's close economic and political ties with Beijing to enlist Chinese engagement in challenging Khartoum's obstructionism on Darfur. Until the U.S. makes Darfur a real priority in its foreign relations, it cannot claim to be doing everything possible to stop the genocide."
Africa Action notes that China has made clear that it supports a UN peacekeeping force for Darfur, but that Khartoum's consent must be achieved first. Now, the U.S. must work to actively engage the Chinese government in gaining this consent and removing the final obstacles to the necessary peacekeeping force for Darfur.
In addition, Africa Action urges the Bush Administration to quickly nominate a strong candidate to succeed John Bolton as U.S. Ambassador to the UN, and calls on Congress to ensure that the confirmation process affirms the centrality of the Darfur crisis to the U.S. agenda at the UN.
Africa Action is working with the Genocide Intervention Network to encourage individuals and community groups across the U.S. to hold Sprints for Darfur in the coming weeks, to raise awareness, resources and political pressure to protect the people of Darfur and stop the genocide. For more information on these innovative actions, see http://www.sprintfordarfur.org/
For more information and analysis on the Darfur crisis, see http://www.africaaction.org/darfur