The death toll from the Sudanese government's three-year campaign of ethnic cleansing against black Africans in Darfur is now approaching 400,000. The Sudanese military and their Janjaweed allies have driven more than 2 million refugees from their homes. Last year, an investigation by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights found as many as 2,000 villages and towns had been depopulated by a brutal scorched-earth policy.
Beyond the abstract numbers are the horrific violations of human dignity taking place in Darfur. The High Commissioner and numerous human rights organizations have documented a widespread, deliberate campaign of terror and sexual violence: women and young girls taken into slavery or gang-raped in public; men castrated and left to bleed to death. ...
This month, the United States holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council. Ambassador John Bolton is in a unique position to dispel the council's inertia and initiate actions that will save lives on the ground in Darfur.
Bolton has already accomplished something of consequence. The Security Council has approved a statement that would initiate contingency planning for a U.N. peacekeeping force in Darfur. The proposed U.N. force would replace a poorly equipped, undermanned and largely ineffectual African Union force of 7,000 monitors whose mandate runs out at the end of March.
At the moment, however, a U.N. peacekeeping force is only hypothetical. And despite Bolton's modest achievement, there's little reason to believe the Bush administration's policy of benign neglect has changed. In a Feb. 7 interview with journalist Jim Lehrer, Vice President Dick Cheney offered this deplorable assessment of the U.S. response to Darfur: "I am satisfied we're doing everything we can do."
Whenever I write about the situation in Darfur, readers ask me: "What can I do?" Invariably, I refer them to aid organizations such as the Save Darfur Coalition or tell them to contact their representative and senators.
This month, my answer is different. Contact the White House. ...
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