What's behind the Darfur crisis - and what's next?
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Darfur's location at the southern edge of the Sahara makes it difficult for aid groups to reach, compounded by the onset of the rainy season. What shelter there is comes from tents donated by aid organizations or tarps strapped to tree branches.Skip to next paragraph
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Aside from 305 African Union troops and 80 monitors currently in Darfur, the international community has yet to intervene militarily to stop the bloodshed. One reason is that the UN has not deemed it to be genocide. In 1948, in an effort to ward off another Holocaust, the UN drafted a convention defining genocide as including killing or causing bodily or mental harm "in whole or in part, [to] a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group."
The US Congress passed resolutions in July urging President Bush to call the crisis a genocide. The Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington called the Darfur crisis a "full-fledged genocide emergency," the first time it has ever issued such a warning. But unless the UN calls it genocide, member states are not obligated to intervene. The US is pushing for a greater African Union military presence. And the White House was pivotal in pushing for UN Resolution 1556, which gave Khartoum until Aug. 30 to avoid sanctions. It has also poured in more than $194.1 million in aid, says the US Agency for International Development.
Until recently, the Sudanese government has stonewalled efforts to bring aid to the refugees. Robert Rotberg, an Africa scholar at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., says the Sudanese government "fears that outsiders will discover how it has funded and created the janjaweed," he says. "Khartoum is engaged in a massive coverup."
Some diplomats say Sudan is doing just enough to avoid sanctions. A preliminary UN report on Darfur released Wednesday said Khartoum had lifted restrictions on humanitarian relief, deployed some 10,000 police officers to the region, and begun disarming the Janjaweed. The report also recommended a rapid increase to the international monitoring force already on the ground. The AU has offered to send in 3,000 troops, but Khartoum has so far rejected the offer.
Also, Russia rejects sanctions. Outgoing Security Council president Andrei Denisov of Russia said Monday that Khartoum has made significant progress. And though Sudan isn't a major oil exporter, producing 250,000 barrels per day, countries may balk at sanctions that might push global oil prices higher. If sanctions are slapped on Khartoum, Mr. Rotberg argues they must include barring SudanAir from flying internationally and cutting off oil shipments. He also says that a UN force led by France or another European country must be deployed to bring an end to the crisis.
• Population: 6 million
• Religion: 98 percent Muslim
• People at risk: 2.2 million
• Refugees: 1.4 million
• People killed in 18-month crisis: 30,000 (est.)
• Aid workers operating in region: 4,000
• Funds required: The UN says it needs $434 million by the end of the year. The US has contributed $194.1 million.
• Troop deployments: 200 French soldiers are deployed on the border between Chad and Darfur. Rwanda and Nigeria have sent 305 troops to assist the African Union's 80 military observers in the region.
Sources: UN, USAID, World Almanac
• Center for International Disaster Information www.cidi.org, (703) 276-1914
• United Nations World Food Program www.wfp.org, (202) 530-1694
• Care International www.care.org, (404) 681-2552
• Red Cross www.icrc.org, 011-41-22-730-2171