In an alarming development following weeks of escalating violence between government and rebel forces, Khartoum has requested that UNAMID withdraw troops guarding the rebel-held town of Muhajiriya in South Darfur. Meanwhile, the Sudanese army has begun bombing near Muhajiriya and amassing troops on the town’s outskirts, clearly in preparation for an attack.
The UN has refused Khartoum’s request, vowing to protect Muhajiriya’s 30,000 citizens from impending attacks. However, it is far from clear that the 196 peacekeepers stationed at the town will be able to hold up against a full-scale Sudanese army offensive.
The situation has prompted comparisons to the massacre at Srebrenica in 1995, when thousands of Bosnians were slaughtered in an area that had been declared a UN “safe zone.” It is up to the international community to ensure that this dark chapter of history is not repeated.
On its blog, the ENOUGH Project urges the international community, and the Obama administration in particular, to take immediate action:
The international community, and the Obama administration, now faces a crucial moment. It can abandon 30,000 civilians to state-sponsored violence, or it can embrace its responsibility to protect and make sure that Muhajiriya does not become the next Srebrenica. Rather than withdrawing, UNAMID must immediately reinforce its presence in Muhajiriya, and the United States must spell out specific consequences for the Sudan if it does not immediately cease aerial bombings and abandon its plans for this offensive. This is a clear attempt by Khartoum to test the resolve of the Obama Administration in its early days, and the response of President Obama and the UN will determine the fate of thousands of Darfuris.