Thursday, the Canadian government announced a 170 million dollar aid package for Sudan’s Darfur region. Prime Minister Paul Martin says the purpose of the aid is to help bring peace and stability to the region, where rebels have fought government forces for the last several years.
Some estimates put the number of people killed in Darfur at 300 thousand. The United States and others have called many of the killings by government-backed Arab militias, known as the janjaweed, genocide.
Despite the new Canadian aid proposal, one Member of Parliament says it’s not enough. David Kilgour says the killings must be stopped now – and some say he may use his key vote next week on Canada’s budget to pressure the government.
From Ottawa, Mr. Kilgour spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about Canadian aid for Darfur. He says, “Overall, I’m afraid it’s a disappointment, really a considerable disappointment, because I had discussed it with the Prime Minister on numerous occasions and written him. I thought he was committed to doing the kind of thing that needs to be (done), which is of course to stop the killing and stop the rapes. And stop the janjaweed from going into the camps (for the displaced), I gather every night, and dragging women out because of their skin color for ethnic cleansing reasons and continuing to do this unabated since basically March 2003.”
Mr. Kilgour believes action in Darfur is long overdue. “I think a lot of people feel that we have to come up with a sufficiently strong African Union-led force that the janjaweed and their bosses in Khartoum will know that the ‘jig is up’ and they can’t continue to rape and to kill and commit genocide on the African residents of Darfur.”
By late September, the AU plans to have about 6100 troops in Darfur, about double the current number, in a region the size of France. The Canadian MP thinks that’s too little, too late.
He says, “Well, again by the end of September, by my calculation that’ll be at least I suppose another 70,000 people will be dead and I don’t know how many more women will be raped.”
Mr. Kilgour would like to see Canada take the lead in getting NATO support logistical support for the African Union to help bring in many more peacekeepers to Darfur. He also wants his government to provide a bigger contingent of troops to a peacekeeping force in Sudan to encourage other countries to do the same.