Yesterday, we reported on the urgent situation in Muhajiriya, South Darfur, where the government of Sudan is currently building up forces in preparation for a major offensive, placing the town’s 30,000 citizens in immediate danger.
Khartoum has requested that UNAMID – the protection force charged with protecting civilians and monitoring a ceasefire – leave the town, giving the international community clear warning about its intentions.
This showdown between the government of Sudan and the international community is a key test for President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and Ambassador Rice. The Obama administration has pledged to act on Darfur, but, if the State Department’s reaction to the events in Muhajiriya serves as any indication, it has yet to back up its strong words with action.
Here is an excerpt from Monday’s State Department briefing:
QUESTION: Do you have any comment on – the Sudanese Government has launched some attacks in Darfur. Do you have any comment on that?
MR. WOOD (State Dept. spokesperson): I don’t know – have those attacks –
MR. WOOD: Well, obviously, we would condemn any attacks against the people of Darfur. It’s a horrible situation on the ground there. I need to look into – see what more has happened since this morning. I wasn’t aware that those attacks had taken place. And we’ll try to get you some more on that.
The State Department has since issued a statement condemning the violence, and Ambassador Rice addressed the situation in an interview today. Still, this slow response and lack of a comprehensive strategy to deal with Khartoum’s posturing is unacceptable.
Khartoum must know that it cannot get away with such blatant acts of violence on the Obama Administration’s watch. Obama, Rice, and Clinton must demonstrate American leadership and show that Darfur is a Day One priority.
Call the State Department now and demand that Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice outline specific consequences for the government of Sudan if it does not cease aerial bombings and abandon its plans for an offensive on Muhajirya.
Call the State Department today at 202-647-6575!
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.