The Darfur void

Forget the Darfur peace agreement signed in May. It isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Violence in the first half of this year has been worse than the same period in 2005, according to a senior UN official yesterday. There have been more raids, more rapes, and more people displaced from their homes – ...

607507_darfur5.jpg
607507_darfur5.jpg

Forget the Darfur peace agreement signed in May. It isn't worth the paper it's printed on. Violence in the first half of this year has been worse than the same period in 2005, according to a senior UN official yesterday. There have been more raids, more rapes, and more people displaced from their homes - and violence has only gotten worse since the deal was signed a few months ago. What's more, there's no record of the violence taking place. Since mid-June, there hasn't been a single investigation of cease-fire violations. So much for a peace deal. 

This news makes today's announcement from the African Union all the more tragicomic: They have no money past October to pay the 7000 AU troops "monitoring" the non-existent cease-fire. So, what happens after October is anyone's guess. The AU may pull the troops, but Sudan refuses to allow UN peacekeepers in. Plus, the Sudanese government has a powerful friend in China. The absence of AU troops will leave a more obvious void, but it's screamingly apparent that civilians in Darfur are hardly benefiting from their presence as it is. Michael Gerson, Bush's former speechwriter who increasingly led the charge on progress on Darfur during his last year in the West Wing, spoke recently with FP about the lack of international political will to put together a capable peacekeeping force. That is, of course, a huge hurdle. But is that force the only thing that will prevent us from looking back in a year lamenting that the violence in Darfur has only worsened still?  

Forget the Darfur peace agreement signed in May. It isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. Violence in the first half of this year has been worse than the same period in 2005, according to a senior UN official yesterday. There have been more raids, more rapes, and more people displaced from their homes – and violence has only gotten worse since the deal was signed a few months ago. What’s more, there’s no record of the violence taking place. Since mid-June, there hasn’t been a single investigation of cease-fire violations. So much for a peace deal. 

This news makes today’s announcement from the African Union all the more tragicomic: They have no money past October to pay the 7000 AU troops “monitoring” the non-existent cease-fire. So, what happens after October is anyone’s guess. The AU may pull the troops, but Sudan refuses to allow UN peacekeepers in. Plus, the Sudanese government has a powerful friend in China. The absence of AU troops will leave a more obvious void, but it’s screamingly apparent that civilians in Darfur are hardly benefiting from their presence as it is. Michael Gerson, Bush’s former speechwriter who increasingly led the charge on progress on Darfur during his last year in the West Wing, spoke recently with FP about the lack of international political will to put together a capable peacekeeping force. That is, of course, a huge hurdle. But is that force the only thing that will prevent us from looking back in a year lamenting that the violence in Darfur has only worsened still?  

Carolyn O'Hara is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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