Darfur Needs More Than Words

Article excerpt

The crisis crept up slowly. Must it also be resolved slowly? Ethnic cleansing of African Muslim villagers by the tens of thousands has been going on for more than a year in Sudan. The world's awareness of this slaughter - 30,000 to 50,000 - began last March. Only a month ago the UN Security Council finally gave a 30- day ultimatum to Sudan's Arab-dominated government to end military support of the rogue, camel-riding militia killing civilians in the province of Darfur, and to rein in those militia, known as the Janjaweed.

The deadline passed Monday, and Tuesday the UN staff will report on Sudan's compliance. On Thursday, the Council meets to discuss possibly taking action (or not). By most accounts, the European and Chinese members are reluctant to impose economic sanctions, as the US proposes, let alone intervene militarily.

Sudan, meanwhile, takes just enough small steps - letting in aid convoys and some 300 peacekeepers from Nigeria and Rwanda - to keep the UN hoping it can avoid taking action, despite new reports of Sudanese aircraft bombing villages.

Once again, the UN's reputation is on the line, as it was in recent crises over Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Iraq. …