The Darfur Consortium

. . .

Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

July 24, 2023

Los Angeles Times: YouTube presidential debate blazes trail. Embracing the Internet in all its brashness and irreverence, eight Democratic presidential hopefuls differed over Iraq, Darfur, same-sex marriage and more offbeat issues in a lively Monday-night debate driven by dozens of amateur inquisitors. The candidates also differed over Darfur, an exchange made all the more poignant by a videotape featuring aid workers and children at a refugee camp. "Before you answer this question," the candidates were challenged, "imagine yourself the parent of one of these children. "What action do you commit to that will get these children back home to a safe Darfur and not letting it be yet another empty promise?" Richardson replied, "America needs to respond with diplomacy." Clinton agreed. Both ruled out the deployment of U.S. ground troops. Biden endorsed deployment. "Where we can, America must. Why Darfur? Because we can," he said, adding that unless the U.S. acted militarily, "those kids will be dead by the time diplomacy is over."

Associated Press: US: Darfur Plan Has Force Timeline. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Monday that Security Council members were finalizing a new draft resolution on Darfur that he hopes will speed up the deployment of a U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force to the troubled region. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said the U.S., Britain and France had met with African nations and military planners to discuss a timeline for how quickly the 26,000-strong "hybrid" force could replace the undermanned and poorly equipped AU force currently in the region. "The planners are here looking at the timeline issue and whether things could happen at a faster pace because it's in our interest to have an effective force on the ground as soon as possible," he told reporters at U.N. headquarters. He said the U.S., Britain and France hope to have a draft resolution ready to circulate to Security Council members this week, although they are still making changes to alleviate the concerns of some countries on the 15-member council and Sudan. A previous draft resolution by Britain, France and Ghana earlier this month ran into stiff opposition from South Africa, whose ambassador called it "totally unacceptable." In Khartoum, al-Bashir ended a tour of Darfur on Monday and described the region as largely peaceful. "If one talks of lack of security, then it is not in Darfur. What they are talking about is Iraq, Palestine or Afghanistan, and I challenge them all to come here," the president said in a statement carried by the official media in West Darfur state capital of El Geneina. Sudanese officials have repeatedly stated that Darfur is pacified since a May 2006 peace deal signed by the government and one rebel group. But the U.N. and international observers say violence has only worsened in the region since the agreement was signed.

Associated Press: Michigan Latest State to Target Sudan. A growing list of states and universities across the country are pulling their investments from foreign companies that deal with Sudan, Iran and other nations accused of government-supported genocide or terrorism. It could be the largest wave of public divestment activity since efforts targeting South Africa and apartheid in the 1980s. Michigan is among the states that soon could join the effort. The state Legislature on Tuesday was to hold hearings on bills that would restrict the state's pension fund investments. According to the Sudan Divestment Task Force, 19 states and more than 50 universities have adopted some sort of divestment policy related to the African nation, where the government and its military allies are accused of pursuing a genocide campaign in the Darfur region. ''As more and more states jump on board, it creates a snowball effect,'' said Ginny Mitchell, an Ann Arbor resident who is working with the task force. ''It will hit Sudan in the wallet, and that's what we're looking to do.'' One set of Michigan bills would target a relatively short list of foreign companies -- mostly from oil, power and minerals sectors -- listed by the Sudan Divestment Task Force. The task force says those companies have a business relationship with the Sudanese government but fail to benefit citizens outside of government-controlled circles, and have not adequately addressed the genocide through corporate action.

Reuters: EU Takes First Step For Chad Darfur Refugee Force. The European Union took the first step on Monday towards sending forces to Chad and the Central African Republican to help the United Nations protect refugees trapped in the violent region bordering Darfur. Eastern Chad and northern Central African Republic have seen a spillover from the 4-year-old conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region, with cross border raids by Sudanese militias and the influx of tens of thousands of refugees. EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels issued a statement saying they had asked the bloc's military staff to plan a possible operation "in support of the multidimensional U.N. presence in Eastern Chad and North-Eastern Central African Republic with a view to improving security in those areas." Asked when EU forces could be sent, an EU official said: "at the end of October at the earliest." Military staff will start working on a possible year-long 1,500 to 3,000-strong force, but the end result could be different, diplomats said. U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean-Marie Guehenno urged the EU last week to deploy highly mobile troops supported by helicopters, to help protect a zone in Chad 900 km (560 miles) long by 200-400 km (125-250 miles) wide and a small part of the Central African Republic.

Beloit Daily News (Wis.): Turner student is Darfur Hero. Angelica Schwartz, 15, a Beloit Turner High School student, recently was named a Darfur Hero by the Save Darfur Coalition. She is the first to earn the honor from the coalition. Schwartz organized a youth-led walk-a-thon held on June 2 in Riverside Park in Beloit, called Stroll for Sudan. She and the young people who rallied to make the event a success were able to raise about $4,700, which was donated to the World Vision's program for Darfur humanitarian relief.

The following op-ed by Leslie Thomas, curator of the Darfur/Darfur exhibit, and Joseph Torsella, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, appeared in today's Philadelphia Inquirer.

Images from Darfur to haunt city streets

As the sun sets on Philadelphia's historic district this evening, a series of stark and unsettling images will appear on three of the limestone walls of the National Constitution Center.

By the museum's entrance on Arch Street, on the wall where the U.S. Constitution's famous Preamble is engraved, portraits will be shown of those who live in one of the world's worst places, where the struggle against violence and deprivation has left even children staring at the future with sad, empty eyes.

On two adjacent walls along Sixth Street will be beamed photographs that narrate this living hell: the systemic destruction of traditional homes and formerly strong families, as well of as livestock and entire villages, and the valiant if often futile efforts to help those who survive.

The exhibit is called "Darfur/Darfur," and there'll be no escaping it. It will assault passersby, follow the driver, haunt the pedestrian.

While "Darfur/Darfur" has already been displayed in more than a dozen places around the world, the Constitution Center is only the second in this country, and the third in the world, to host the exhibit outside, in what otherwise would be regarded as public space.

The genocide in the Darfur region of western Sudan, a genocide that has raged now for four years, is no ordinary story.

By some estimates, up to 450,000 people have died as government-backed militias have killed and raped its people and ravaged the countryside. An estimated 2.3 million Darfuris have fled their homes and communities, living in displaced-persons camps in Darfur or, increasingly, in neighboring Chad.

The eight photographers whose works appear in this exhibit - among them a former U.S. Marine - have chronicled the deteriorating humanitarian crisis for all to see. So have other brave journalists and advocates. Still, the Khartoum government resists all entreaties to stop the murder and destruction.

The Bush administration, Congress, and two secretaries of state have labeled Darfur a genocide. So have respected members of the international community.

Still, Sudan President Omar al-Bashir ignores the very words of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, approved by the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights and once signed by his own nation.

One might ask: What does Darfur have to do with the U.S. Constitution? Why is America's birthplace an appropriate setting for images of a faraway tragedy?

In our view, Darfur has everything to do with what was written more than two centuries ago here in Philadelphia.

More than a legal document, the Constitution is, in the words of Frederick Douglass, a "great liberty document" whose ultimate subject is human rights. Those rights were not extended equally and fairly at first, but over time - through perseverance and struggle - our nation's concept of "We the People" has grown broader, stronger, and deeper.

Genocide defies "We the People." Genocide seeks to obliterate the values on which our system of governance is based. Rather than accepting that all people are born with natural rights, chief among them the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," those who would wreak genocide declare instead that certain people have no rights at all. No right even to survive.

In Sudan, it is the Janjaweed militia that began slaughtering civilian Darfuris and dividing a formerly integrated region along ethnic lines. This is not exclusively an African phenomenon. Genocide has reared its ugly sword in Germany and Poland, Cambodia and Kosovo. It respects no boundaries of race, religion, geography. It calls out the worst in human nature.

And it works best in the dark, when no one is looking.

"Darfur/Darfur" seeks to honor the values of the U.S. Constitution by bringing genocide into the light, to make it real and human, compelling, unavoidable, and yes, even solvable. It is our duty as citizens to help secure for others the same liberties that we in America have worked so hard to secure for ourselves. 

The following op-ed by Kate Heartfield appeared in today's Calgary Herald.

Why Canada failed in Darfur
As Darfur slips from being the next Rwanda to being the prototype for the next Darfur, maybe it's time for Canada to glean some lessons from this failure.

It is a very Canadian failure, because it seems to stem in part from an excess of politeness. You can't move fast when you're walking on eggshells.

For four years, we have known about the violence. No matter what happens now, our slow response ensures Darfur will go down on the shameful side of history's ledger. We've failed the first big test of the Canadian ideal known as the Responsibility to Protect.

If we want to pass the second, third or fourth tests, we have to figure out why we failed in Darfur.

Part of the answer is our ignorance and small-mindedness. That accounts for the first two years or so of the crisis.

But about halfway through this nightmare, citizens in the democratic world started wearing wristbands, holding concerts and writing columns.

So the blame shifted to the governments, and then to their forum, the United Nations. The UN is finally working on establishing a beefed-up, hybrid UN-African Union peacekeeping force, but it's been hamstrung all along by the fact that members of the Security Council, especially China, are unwilling to clear their throats without Sudan's permission.

Of course, it's easy for Canadians to tut-tut about China, but less easy for a dinner-party's worth of Canadians to agree on what kinds of military intervention are acceptable. Are we willing to send Canadian soldiers (assuming we had them to spare) into danger?

We will have to get willing if we're going to stop future Darfurs. You can't protect a bully's victim without facing the bully. It is difficult to stop people from dying without offending the killers.

Fear of offence has been an obstacle to action in other areas, too. Many American politicians and activist groups want an internationally enforced no-fly zone in Darfur. That would cut the militia off from the air support that has been part of the violence in the past and could be again. More important, it might give the government of Sudan a reason to wipe the smirk off its face and negotiate for real.

But the humanitarian organizations on the ground say a no-fly zone would make their work impossible. They need to use the air space, and relief agencies anywhere depend on a certain amount of goodwill, or at least indifference, from local authorities. Understandably, they don't want to do anything to anger them.

It's a reasonable position, but ultimately irreconcilable with the Responsibility to Protect.

Aid organizations might have to remain neutral to do their work, but that doesn't mean the rest of the world has to. A no-fly zone is a relatively easy way to bring some security to the area, to make it possible for peacekeepers to do their job. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says the no-fly zone is the only way to get the attention of Sudan's government, and she's probably right.

Besides, Sudan is already interfering with humanitarian work, to such an extent that Oxfam had to pull out of the biggest Darfur refugee camp. Some displaced people are living on the fringes of the camps and receiving little or no help. Sometimes, the only available choices are between different degrees of suffering.

In 2000, the Canadian government convened an international commission to explain what is involved in the Responsibility to Protect. That commission laid out the principles of intervention and warned about Security Council intransigence. It didn't offer many practical solutions, though.

Here's the crux of the problem: The Responsibility to Protect is always going to be popular in principle, and almost never going to be popular in practice. Implementing it requires a slightly quixotic approach to foreign affairs, a willingness to give offence and take a few risks, when the alternatives are horrifying.

The new leaders of France and Britain seem to be willing to be noisy -- perhaps even rude -- on the Darfur issue. Canada should support them, even if it's just a matter of making a big fuss. It's too late to erase the failure of the past four years, but we still need to negotiate one more obstacle to action: procedural yammering.

A month after Sudan agreed to the hybrid force, the Security Council is still arguing over the language in the authorizing resolution. If all goes incredibly well, the mission will begin in September. "I think this is fast, by UN standards," said Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week.

The delay has given Sudan time to backtrack again, saying it never agreed to a mission that would be able to use force. Dissension on the Security Council, as some countries (such as South Africa) insist on not hurting Sudan's feelings, plays right into Sudan's hands.

Canada should tell its friends to smarten up.


The Darfur Daily News is a service of the Save Darfur Coalition.  To subscribe to the Daily News, please email [email protected]. For media inquiries, please contact  Ashley Roberts  at (202) 478-6181, or [email protected].

African Voices
Join the Darfur Consortium


Action Professionals Association for the People

Aegis Trust Rwanda

African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies

African Center for Development

African Center for Justice and Peace Studies

Africa Internally Displaced Persons Voice (Africa IDP Voice)

African Security Dialogue and Research (ASDR)

African Women's Development and Communications Network (FEMNET)

The Ahueni Foundation

Alliances for Africa

Amman Centre for Human Rights Studies

Andalus Institute for Tolerance

Anti-Slavery International

Arab Coalition for Darfur

Arab Program for Human Rights Activists

Association Africaine de Defense des Droits de l'Homme (ASADHO)

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

Centre for Minority Rights Development (CEMIRIDE)

Centre for Research Education and Development of Freedom of Expression and Associated Rights (CREDO)

Citizens for Global Solutions

Conscience International

Conseil National Pour les Libertés en Tunisie

Darfur Alert Coalition (DAC)

Darfur Centre for Human Rights and Development

Darfur Leaders Network (DLN)

Darfur Reconciliation and Development Organization (DRDO)

Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre

East Africa Law Society

Egyptian Organization for Human Rights

Femmes Africa Solidarité

La Fédération Internationale des Droits de l'Homme (FIDH)

Forum of African Affairs (FOAA)

Human Rights First

Human Rights Institute of South Africa (HURISA)

Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa

Institute for Security Studies

Inter-African Union for Human Rights (UIDH)


International Commission of Jurists (ICJ Kenya)

International Refugee Rights Initiative

Justice Africa

Justice and Peace Commission

Lawyers for Human Rights

Lebanese Association for Democratic Elections

Legal Resources Consortium-Nigeria

Ligue Tunisienne des Droits de l'Homme

Makumira University College, Tumaini University

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)

Minority Rights Group

National Association of Seadogs

Never Again International

Open Society Justice Initiative

Pan-African Movement

Rencontre Africaine Pour la Defense des Droits de l'Homme (RADDHO)

Sierra Leone STAND Chapter

Sisters' Arabic Forum for Human Rights (SAF)

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)

Sudan Organization Against Torture (SOAT)

Syrian Organization for Human Rights

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC)

Universal Human Rights Network


Women Initiative Nigeria (WIN)

©2007 Darfur Consortium. Design by Deirdre Reznik