A report released Tuesday is highly critical of the UN Security Council’s handling of the crisis in Darfur. The Save Darfur Coalition and the ENOUGH Project says the council has done little to end the violence, despite years of talking about it.
Jerry Fowler is the president of the Save Darfur Coalition. In Washington, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the Security Council.
“I think it’s good that the Security Council went to Darfur, but I think what has been missing for a long, long time is a comprehensive strategy for dealing with Darfur. Four years since they first started addressing it, the Security Council still does not have a comprehensive strategy for addressing the crisis there,” he says.
Asked why, Fowler says, “I think it’s a lack of political will. I think it’s a lack of leadership by the United States. It is a lack of interest in actually obstructionism by the Chinese government. And I think key African countries, including South Africa, have not stepped up and taken initiative on this.”
However, the United States called the crisis in Darfur genocide several years ago. “It did call it genocide, although putting labels on things is not the same as having a strategy for dealing with it. And it’s been the strategy that’s been lacking.”
Commenting on the Security Council’s visit last week to Darfur, which included a stop at a camp for the displaced, Fowler says, “Obviously, when you do this kind of ‘fly in and fly out’ trip you only get the barest sense of what’s happening. I think what the Security Council should give special attention to is the report they received last week from the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, who listed a series of crimes that he said are still continuing, including targeting of civilians, including recent aerial bombardments, destruction of means of livelihood, organized insecurity and destitution within the type of camps that they visited, rapes, attacks against local leadership.”
He says the prosecutor’s conclusion was that these crimes could ultimately lead to the destruction of certain groups in Darfur.
“I think in the first instance there’s a tremendous amount of urgency to get the civilian protection force deployed that the Security Council approved last July. We’re coming up on a year since the force was authorized and only a very small portion of it has hit the ground. And the force is lacking some key elements. It doesn’t have helicopters it needs, it doesn’t have trucks that it needs and it doesn’t have logistic units that it needs. The United States, in its presidency of the Security Council this month, can take the lead in getting that equipment committed by holding a special meeting of the countries that have those assets and get them to commit to providing them to the protection force,” he says.
The Save Darfur Coalition / ENOUGH Project report blames Sudanese obstruction for the delay in the peacekeeping force, along with a lack of focus by the Security Council.
The Bush administration says it has called on the United Nations to speed the deployment of peacekeepers, adding at least three thousand troops by the end of this month. It also has pledged 500 million dollars to help train and supply those troops.
Meanwhile, the Sudanese government has accused its critics of exaggerating and distorting the facts about Darfur. It says it is the target of a vicious campaign by those serving their own agenda.
As for China, this week US State Department officials praised China for pressuring the Khartoum government over Darfur but says the Beijing government can do more. China says those who criticize its oil interests in Sudan are being hypocritical.