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Horror in Sudan

4/5/2006 5:50am

The world must step in and stop the slaughter
April 5, 2006

Nightmare. Genocide. The world's worst humanitarian crisis. Two million people driven out. Hundreds of thousands killed.

What will it take for the world to stop the disaster that is Sudan?

This week the northern African nation stopped the United Nations' humanitarian chief from investigating conditions in the southern Darfur region or even flying over Sudanese airspace. Among the myriad excuses for telling Jan Egeland he wasn't welcome: He is Norwegian, the controversy over cartoons of Muhammad originated in a Danish paper, and the visit coincided with the prophet's birthday.

Come off it.

Clearly the Khartoum government does not want the world to see the extent of the devastation wreaked by the Janjaweed, the government-backed Arab militia that has run roughshod over Sudanese people of African origin for three years, claiming to be stamping out rebellion.

So far, the 7,000 soldiers dispatched by the African Union have not provided adequate protection. The United Nations is poised to send in 20,000 peacekeepers -- more like imposers -- but the Sudanese government has said no.

With these numbers, is the sovereignty of this murderous regime really the primary concern?

Apparently it is to the Arab League, which last week reiterated its position that UN peacekeepers should stay out without Sudan's permission. Hosni Mubarak, president of neighboring Egypt, skipped the summit but went to Sudan Tuesday for the first time in a decade to talk solutions. He must get the Sudanese government to stop the genocide or get the Arab League to withdraw its opposition.

Meantime, a U.S. Senate committee ponied up more money for peacekeeping Tuesday. The United States may need to exert its influence further and get the United Nations to send troops, permission or not, and work on NATO, which has so far pledged to support African Union troops but not send soldiers of its own.

The scale of the slaughter makes this everybody's problem. It's time for the world to say: Enough.

Copyright © 2006 Detroit Free Press Inc.

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