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As the crisis in Darfur continues to deepen, Africa Action stands with the people of Darfur and with African leaders from across the continent who are calling for an international peacekeeping force that can stop the violence and protect civilians in western Sudan.

"Africa Action Stands with African Voices Calling for International Intervention in Darfur"

Statement released October 4, 2006 Contact: Ann-Louise Colgan, 202-546-7961 As the crisis in Darfur continues to deepen, Africa Action stands with the people of Darfur and with African leaders from across the continent who are calling for an international peacekeeping force that can stop the violence and protect civilians in western Sudan.

In recent weeks, reports have confirmed a sharp deterioration in the security situation on the ground in Darfur, and international discussions at the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU) and elsewhere have focused on how to protect civilians from the worsening violence. While the AU continues to provide a measure of security in some parts of Darfur, and while it has extended the mandate of its mission until December 31, the need for a more robust international intervention in Darfur is clear. In a significant step, the UN Security Council authorized such a peacekeeping force in Resolution 1706, passed at the end of August.

With the implementation of Resolution 1706 now stalled in the face of Khartoum’s opposition, African voices have emerged prominently in the discourse on Darfur, asserting the need and the obligation for new international action on this crisis. Leadership figures from across the continent have spoken out powerfully in the past several weeks, questioning the failure of the world community to act more quickly and assertively to save lives in Darfur. They have injected moral clarity into the debate and affirmed the legitimacy of the United Nations and its member states to pursue the action necessary to stop the genocide in Darfur.

Africa Action continues to elevate Darfuri voices in the U.S. discourse on this crisis, and works with Darfuri organizations across the U.S., calling for an urgent international intervention that can provide protection and security to the people of Darfur. Fatima Haroun of the Sudan Peace Advocates Network joined Africa Action’s rally outside the White House on September 9, 2006, and repeated her longstanding call for a United Nations peacekeeping force for Darfur. She emphasized, “The people of Darfur have suffered more than enough already, and the situation is getting worse. It is time for international action to stop the violence and bring relief and peace to this region.” The following week, on September 14, 2006, Archbishop Desmond Tutu emphasized, “The world can’t keep saying 'Never again'.” He chastised the international community for its slow response to the Darfur crisis, saying in a BBC interview, “The harsh truth is that some lives are slightly more important than others... If you are swarthy, of a darker hue, almost always you are going to end up at the bottom of the pile.” Archbishop Tutu asserted that the international community should make clear to the Sudanese government that it must accept UN peacekeepers or face serious consequences.

At an Arria-style meeting of the UN Security Council on September 14,2006, H.E. Nana Effah-Apenteng, Ambassador of Ghana to the United Nations, invoked Article 4 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, which asserts the right to intervene in a member state in cases where crimes against humanity are taking place. He expressed his concern about the urgency of the situation in Darfur, and asserted that the international community could not allow Khartoum to delay action endlessly, but must move forward to protect the people of Darfur.

One day later, First Vice President in the Government of National Unity in Khartoum, Salva Kiir, offered his support for an international peacekeeping mission in Darfur, stating, “The aggravation of the humanitarian and security situation in Darfur necessitates intervention of international forces to protect civilians from the atrocities of the Janjaweed militias so long as the government is not capable of protecting them.” On September 17, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told reporters, "I have urged the Security Council to act…without delay, and to be united as possible in the face of the crisis.” He added, “It is urgent to act now.
Civilians are still being attacked and fleeing their villages as we speak.” Africa’s first woman president, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, addressed the General Assembly the following week on September 19, saying, “The world must not allow a second Rwanda to happen.” She added, “My government therefore calls on this General Assembly and the Security Council to exercise the Chapter VII authority to restore peace, security and stability to Darfur.” The following day, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka was quoted in the South African newspaper Business Day challenging the legitimacy of Khartoum’s opposition to a UN force for Darfur, saying, “When a deviant branch of that family of nations flouts, indeed revels in the abandonment of, the most basic norms of human decency, is there really justification in evoking the excuse that protocol requires the permission [for UN deployment of force] of that same arrogant and defiant entity?” These and other statements from African leaders in the past month have shaped the debate on the necessary next steps to stop the genocide in Darfur. They join the chorus of voices from within and outside the continent urging an international intervention that can protect the people of Darfur.

Africa Action values the leadership role that the African Union has played and continues to play in Darfur. Africa Action also respects the AU’s numerous requests for a transition to a larger UN peacekeeping force. Such a transition is consistent with the international “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine, and it is the necessary and appropriate response to this crime against humanity.

Africa Action urges the U.S. and other members of the Security Council to support African leadership on Darfur by implementing Resolution 1706 and deploying an international peacekeeping mission to reinforce the AU and provide effective protection to the people of Darfur. As the situation in Darfur deteriorates still further, the international community must act now. The Security Council must take every step necessary to overcome remaining obstacles and to achieve this deployment, before countless more lives are lost in Darfur.