The EU must act in Darfur

By Joschka Fischer (former german foreign minister), published on, May 10, 2007.

For four years, violence and terror have ruled in Darfur. After many futile efforts, the European Union must get tough with the perpetrators.

Darfur is a humanitarian catastrophe: more than 200,000 dead, thousands raped and tortured, and 2.6 million people displaced, owing to the Sudanese government’s war against its own people. Originally an anti-insurgency effort, the campaign quickly mutated into a killing and expulsion operation. Sudan’s government has been recruiting and paying the local Janjaweed militiamen, who have attacked hundreds of defenseless villages and towns, often in close coordination with the Sudanese air force.

The consequences are devastating. Roughly a third of Darfur’s population has been forced from their homes and are now in displaced persons camps inside Sudan, where they remain subject to the Janjaweed terror, or in equally vulnerable refugee settlements in Chad. International humanitarian efforts to help those in Sudan are hampered by Sudanese government harassment and pointless bureaucratic hassles. Even if the aid arrives, the point, to quote one senior UN official, seems to be “keeping people alive with our humanitarian assistance until they are massacred”.

Darfur demands consistent and firm international action. We all bear responsibility to help the displaced return to their homes. In the last three years, the UN Security Council has passed ten resolutions requiring the Sudanese government to change course and fulfill its obligation to protect its own people. These include a demand from the Security Council to disarm the Janjaweed. Yet the Sudanese government never follows through on its repeated promises to do so. (full text).

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