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Africa & Aboriginal Tuesdays: Africa Action Urges UN Mandate for African Union Operation in Darfur


On Monday, November 21, 2005 Africa Action called for a Chapter 7 United Nations (UN) mandate to be extended to the African Union (AU) force in Darfur, Sudan. As new reports from the media and from the UN confirm a sharp increase in violence in Darfur in recent weeks, Africa Action reiterated its call for action in the UN to provide a stronger mandate and larger force to support the AU operation.

Citing precedents of such cooperation in West Africa in the past decade, and more recently in Burundi, Africa Action urges the U.S. to lead UN action, under Chapter 7 of its Charter, to confer international authority and a protection mandate on the AU mission in Darfur, and to immediately begin to reinforce this mission with a UN intervention force to protect the people of Darfur.

Meanwhile, Africa Actionís exhibit of childrenís drawings from Darfur continues to appear in public spaces across the Washington, DC area, prompting thousands of concerned citizens to send postcards of these drawings to the White House, demanding action from the President through the UN to stop the genocide in Darfur.

Salih Booker, Executive Director of Africa Action, said, "The African Union urgently needs international reinforcement, and the 105 armored vehicles that began arriving in Darfur this weekend are absolutely insufficient. The international community must throw its full weight behind the AU mission and immediately authorize a protection mandate and a broader international intervention in support of the AU to stop the genocide in Darfur."

Africa Action commends the important leadership provided by the African Union as 'first responder' to the genocide in Darfur, but today reiterated its call on the international community to take urgent action to stop this crime against humanity.

Ann-Louise Colgan, Director of Policy Analysis & Communications at Africa Action, said, "Previous successful interventions in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Burundi, among others, have shown the value of UN cooperation with African regional bodies in promoting peace and security on the continent. The AU mission in Darfur should receive immediate international backing in the form of a more robust mandate and a larger UN intervention force to ensure its success in protecting the people of Darfur."

The new monthly report from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on the situation in Darfur notes an "extremely worrying trend" of increased violence and deteriorating security throughout the region. State Department officials continue to travel to Sudan ahead of the resumption of peace talks between the Sudanese governments and Darfur rebels, but Africa Action notes the ongoing failure of U.S. policies to address the urgent need for protection for the people of Darfur.

Africa Action emphasizes that real U.S. leadership on Darfur should come in the form of a resolution at the UN Security Council to provide a UN mandate for the AU mission and to supplement its efforts with a "blue helmeted" international force.

Such an intervention would serve four critical purposes: (1) Stop the killings, rapes and pillaging in Darfur; (2) Provide security to facilitate humanitarian assistance programs for internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees; (3) Enforce the African Union cease-fire between the Khartoum government and the rebel groups in Darfur to allow meaningful political negotiations to move forward, and (4) facilitate the voluntary return of IDPs to their land and the reconstruction of their homes by providing a secure environment.

Marie Clarke Brill, Director of Public Education & Mobilization, said today, "The U.S. remains the only government to have acknowledged that what is happening in Darfur constitutes genocide. This means that a top priority of the U.S. should be providing protection to the people of Darfur. Thousands of people in the U.S. have already sent postcards to the White House in recent weeks urging such action, and hundreds more people will take part in a major Day of Action at the State Department next month, to demand specific steps through the United Nations to protect the people of Darfur."

Africa Actionís exhibit, "The Children of Darfur: Picturing Genocide" will be hosted at universities, organizations, places of worship and other venues around the Washington, DC area in December and January to help raise awareness about the ongoing genocide in Darfur and the urgent need for U.S. action. A full schedule for the exhibit is available on Africa Actionís website at: http://apic.igc.org/campaign_new/darfur_picturing_genocide.php

For further analysis on the Bush Administrationís inadequate response to the crisis in Darfur, see Africa Actionís "Chronology of a Failure to Stop Genocide", available at http://www.africaaction.org/darfur


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

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