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Sudan´s shame (TELEGRAPH UK EDITORIAL) 02/02/05)Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2005/02/02/dl0202.xml&sSheet=/portal/2005/02/02/ixportal.html DAILY TELEGRAPH DAILY TELEGRAPH Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
The American Congress and State Department and the European Parliament have declared that the Sudanese government´s military campaign in Darfur amounts to genocide. The United Nations begs to disagree, accusing Khartoum and its allied militias of atrocities that fall short of that crime as defined by the 1948 convention. It is probably true to say that the government did not embark on operations in the western region with the intention of eliminating its sedentary population.

It was, rather, doing what it has done in many other parts of the country: seeking to crush an insurgency through terror tactics. Yet each day the line between that brutal campaign and genocide becomes thinner. Despite numerous appeals for peace, Khartoum is stepping up an offensive aimed not so much at the two rebel groups as the civilian population. Studying data from various sources, Jan Coebergh, a doctor who has worked in Darfur, estimates that the death toll there is about 300,000, well above the commonly quoted figure of 70,000. Whatever the truth, the escalation of the conflict is rapidly pushing up the total. Sudan´s Islamist government may not have sized up its victims with the same chilling method displayed by the Hutus in Rwanda in 1994, but that is a distinction likely to be lost on those in Darfur subjected to bombing, murder, rape and loot.

Likewise, the disagreement over what constitutes genocide seems academic in the absence of effective outside intervention. It is piously said that this is a problem for Africa to sort out. Yet the African Union force in Darfur is both tardy in deployment and ill equipped to bring order to such a vast area. Western logistical help is overdue. Beyond that, the enforcement of a no-fly zone and the dispatch of a small ground force under a UN mandate should be enough to blunt Khartoum´s offensive.

That is not happening because Darfur is regarded as a sideshow to the north-south peace agreement between Khartoum and Sudan People´s Liberation Movement/Army, which was signed in January and ratified by the Sudanese parliament yesterday. Yet what confidence can there be that a government oblivious to outside appeals over Darfur will not renege on its agreements with the south? The truth is that Omar al- Bashir´s National Congress is determined to crush any form of dissent. In a country of such political, ethnic and religious diversity, that is no recipe for long-term stability. (© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004. 02/02/05)

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