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Calling the U.S. to take genocide seriously

Peter Quaranto and Patrick Corrigan | Friday, September 9, 2005

One year ago today, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell declared the atrocities in Darfur tantamount to genocide. It was a historic declaration that gave many around the world hope that the United States would not stand on the sidelines once again as genocide ensued. Yet, one year has passed and that hope has subsided with lack of action by the U.S. government and international community. There is still time, though, for the United States to reenergize that hope and act to save lives.

The atrocities in Darfur rage on as more than two million people are displaced and another two million require humanitarian assistance. Since 2003, it is estimated that between 80,000 and 400,000 people have been killed. In the same time, tens of thousands of women have been brutally raped and villages have been demolished in a systematic campaign conducted by government and militia forces.

The United States has much to contribute in bringing an end to the horror in Darfur. First, the government can provide increased logistical, financial and diplomatic support to the African Union mission in Darfur to protect civilians. In addition, high-level engagement and financial support will promote and energize the Darfur peace negotiations. Finally, the region requires a continued and increased commitment to dealing with the humanitarian crisis created by the atrocities. The current administration has shown that none of these steps will be implemented without sustained pressure by concerned citizens.

The tragic disaster in the Gulf Coast demands our immediate and urgent attention; however, that attention need not negate continued focus and engagement to the human disaster that continues to kill in Sudan. These attacks on human life – whether caused by humans or nature, whether in our backyards or an ocean away – call us to affirm the sanctity of life and act to defend it. This is a calling that we cannot ignore any longer.

Today, we are joining the voices of thousands of Americans asking the Bush Administration to make human life in Darfur a priority. We urge you to join in by calling your representatives and especially the White House today at 202-456-1414. Together, let’s call the U.S. to take genocide seriously and act accordingly.

Peter Quaranto is the director of the Uganda Conflict Action Network. Patrick Corrigan is the leader of the Sudan Steering Committee. Contact Peter at [email protected] and Patrick at [email protected]

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.