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Genocide is the deliberate extermination of a national, racial, or cultural group. There exists genocide in our world today. In one of Sudan’s poorest regions, Darfur, thousands of people are slaughtered monthly. This is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. The genocide occurring in Darfur needs to be absolved and would be if the United States and United Nations greatly intervened. This situation only worsens when aid is not provided and the nation of Sudan is left to fend for itself.
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The war in Darfur has been raging on since 2003. It began when rebels attacked government posts, which then triggered an immense response by the Sudanese military and the Janjaweed (Cauvin). The members of the Janjaweed are composed of mostly nomadic African Muslims who herd cattle and camels. They have destroyed entire villages, ruined water and food supplies, tortured, raped, and slaughtered hundreds of thousands people in Darfur. These attacks take place with the support of the Sudanese Government. On top of the massive numbers of murdered people an estimated two million people are without homes and forced to live in squalid refugee camps (Cauvin). The unfolding crisis is being compared to the horrific slaughter that occurred in Rwanda a decade earlier. As Cauvin stated in his article quoting Melissa Salvatore, “We cannot let what happened in Rwanda happen in Darfur” (Cauvin). None of Darfur’s civilian population are spared from the inhumane acts of brutal torture, murder, and rape. “As one illustration of how Khartoum (Sudan’s capital) has waged its war, the Sudanese military paints many of its attack aircraft white – the same color as UN humanitarian aircraft – a violation of international humanitarian law. When a plane approaches, villagers do not know whether it is on a mission to help them, or to bomb them. Often, it has been the latter” (Save Darfur). The Sudanese government continues to commit atrocities as the world watches, waiting for someone to take the first step in resolving this crisis.
Genocide: this is what the violence in Darfur has caused. The United States has avoided voicing the word “genocide” to portray the situation. If the crisis in Darfur was classified as Genocide, then the “United States, along with 135 other countries would be obligated to intervene” (Booker). This is because all of these countries have signed the Genocide Convention which compels immediate action to resolve the situation if genocide is occurring in a part of the world.
The United States’ involvement as of now is very minimal. Many of U.S. officials are looking to the United Nations to intervene and resolve the problem. The problem with this is that “if the U.N. were to put an operation together it would take an upwards of three months under the best circumstances” (Booker). The U.S. is equipped for quick military action that could be used to benefit Darfur. As of now the U.S. has close to 2,000 troops stationed less than two hours away from Darfur in Djibouti (Booker). Presently, the only U.S. involvement with private organizations attempting to provide shelter and relief efforts. If the U.S. government were to mobilize troops to Darfur numerous European and African countries would follow (Booker). Some of the African countries that will enter Darfur if the U.S. leads are Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, and Nigeria. Britain has also pledged to join (Booker).
Many countries have been very inadequate in helping the situation in Darfur. Many of these countries choose just to ignore it while others offer some sort of indirect support. China is one of the countries that condones and/or just plainly ignores the atrocities occurring in Darfur. Sudan’s largest trade partner, China, is it’s most outspoken defender and uses the threat that it will veto to any UN Security Council action in Darfur. China has discreetly increased their commitment with Khartoum about Darfur under the pressure of international scrutiny regarding the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics with their theme “One World, One Dream” while the nightmares of genocide still continues in Darfur (Save Darfur). China chooses to support Sudan’s government in their actions by continuing to trade and publicly announce their future veto on any UN resolution or action into Darfur. Another one of the bodies that supports the Sudanese Government war effort indirectly is the European Union. They have not enacted any sanctions against the Sudanese Government, or discouraged the many European companies from conducting business in Sudan. The Union hides behind the “requirement” that the United Nations must perform the mandatory global sanctions prior to the individual countries (Save Darfur). Without any countries taking individual action how is the massacre supposed to cease? Some governments, like the United States’, must take responsibility and step forward to make a stand.
To abolish the crisis in Darfur there are many steps that need to be completed. The first step has to be a cease-fire. The cease-fire must respected by both sides of conflict. In the past there have been cease-fires. The most notable ones occurred in 2004 and again in January 2007 when Governor Bill Richardson traveled to Khartoum, but the Sudanese Government has ignored every single one. The international community must be obliged to back the United Nations while they work for a real ceasefire respected by all parties (Save Darfur). Since cease-fires have been issued in the past and blatantly ignored it is almost justified that military intervention is needed. The next step would be to institute an effective peacekeeping force whose main goals are to protect civilians. Then, the peace process needs to be renewed. In order to attain an everlasting end to the atrocious genocide in Darfur, the current peace effort must find political and social solutions to be instated. The peace agreement that would be instated must include three items: first, the agreement must create a secure environment that allows refugees to return to their homes. Second, there must be a sustainable political agreement that is fully embraced by all armed groups participating in the war. The agreement must also extent to non-combatant groups which are representative of a large portion of Sudani society. Lastly, there must be accountability for all the people who have committed or can be proven to have had command and “responsibility over the violations of human rights and international humanitarian law” (Save Darfur).
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To accomplish the goals previously stated there is a process that be taken in order to proceed with the ultimate goals. The United States and other world leaders must make peace the top priority in Darfur. Over two years ago President Bush declared the situation in Darfur genocide: it still continues. The U.S. administration and the President have made very little progress. The participation of almost all other world leaders has been, to a large extent, worse. The worsening in Darfur demands more than harsh speeches. The U.S. must take the leadership role in building a coalition that forces Khartoum to end the massacres. In the most urgent provisos, that means the execution of multinational sanctions against the Sudanese government and all those affiliated with it (Save Darfur). This is a tough task to accomplish but with the heightened awareness it is possible to convince the government to act accordingly. . It is vital for the requirement of accomplishing the ultimate goals of peace that the nation of China use its leverage on Khartoum. This means that China has an immense deal of influence on Sudan (China is Sudan’s top trade partner). China has shown an increased unease and neglect regarding Darfur. China also has many oil investments in Sudan. These benefit the Sudanese Government but not the people; “these investments also help fund the government military operations in Darfur” (Save Darfur). If these actions are taken then the healing of Darfur can begin. It is, however, necessary that all of these actions/goals take place to ensure the safety of the Darfurians.
Only a decade after the mass genocide in Rwanda, the United States cannot afford to have a repeat of the same mistakes. The United States needs to act now and intervene in Darfur to stop the inhumane crimes being committed daily against the innocent people of Darfur. “Our first responsibility is to the people of Darfur, who are dying at a rate of 1,000 people every day as the genocide continues” (Booker). Can we save Darfur?
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