Darfur in the Media (But Not For Long)

Photograph by Stop Genocide Now

Photograph by Stop Genocide Now

With issues like the struggling economy and a new president dominating US news, media coverage of the Darfur crisis has been pretty slim.

However, Darfur was featured on a recent edition of ABC’s World News Tonight, aired on Sunday nights.

Reporter Bob Woodruff took a closer look at the conflict.

Click here to watch a video of the spotlight story – a mere two minutes, fifty-six seconds long.

“All Bark, No Bite”

Enough, the project to end genocide and crimes against humanity, has created an interactive timeline of the Darfur crisis and the Bush administration’s response (or lack thereof) to it from its inauguration to its final days.

One common theme emerges – tough words without tough actions.

Some of the Bush administration’s most noteworthy quotes on Darfur –

The world cannot ignore the suffering of more than one million people.

The international community has to act on Darfur.

The brutal treatment of innocent civilians in Darfur is unacceptable.

America will not turn away from this tragedy. We will call genocide by its rightful name.

There is no time to delay.

US Authorizes Airlift, Blasts Kristof, and Meets with Kiir

US President George Bush has ordered an airlift of much needed (and much delayed) equipment to the UN-African Union mission (UNAMID) trying to hold pieces together in Darfur.

According to US National Security advisor Stephen Hadley, the airlift will “help UNAMID directly protect civilian lives and improve the safe and effective delivery of lifesaving humanitarian aid”.

Certainly a curious move by the US – occurring during the final two weeks of Bush’s presidency regarding a now almost six-year-long crisis.

However, in perhaps an even more curious move, the US criticized NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof for his own criticism of the Bush administration’s inability to accompany its tough words for Sudan with tough actions.

Kristof responded by saying he was “flattered” to be mentioned in a statement issued by the US government.

In other news, Sudanese First VP Salva Kiir met with President Bush Monday to discuss the North-South peace agreement and the Darfur conflict. To read more about their meeting, click here.

US Special Envoy Recommends Force

US special envoy to Sudan Richard Williamson reportedly recommended US president George Bush coerce the Sudanese government into ending the Darfur conflict.

Williamson’s recommended actions included military force against the Sudanese army, an embargo against oil sales, and temporary blockage of telephone, cell phone, and internet communications in Khartoum.

Providing missiles to South Sudan to protect against retaliation by Khartoum was also on Williamson’s list.

According to reports, Williamson’s action plan was blocked by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and US National Security advisor Stephen Hadley.

Better Late than Never?

612After meeting with Dr. Halima Bashir, a Darfuri woman who experienced first-hand the atrocities taking place in the region, US president George Bush had strong words for Sudan president Omar Al-Bashir.

It’s very important for President Bashir of Sudan to know that he cannot escape accountability; that if he so chooses, he could change people’s lives, the condition of people’s lives very quickly.

Bush also expressed his frustration related to peacekeeping efforts (or lack thereof) in Darfur – “The pace of action out of the United Nations is too slow”.

Will Bush’s most recent statements be accompanied by actions? Or will they simply lead to empty promises as we have seen before? Only time will tell.

Dr. Bashir is the author of the book “Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur”.

Condoleezza has “Real Regrets” about Darfur

US Secretary of State Rice

In an interview with the NY Times this week, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed “real regrets” about the way her country and the world has handled the Darfur atrocities.

The US officially deemed the crisis in Darfur a “genocide” in 2004. However, no immediate further action was taken. Whether the country really believed a simple label would end the violence or whether taking the next step was not determined to be in its best interest has been widely debated.

Rice referred to the failure by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to do more as an “enormous embarrassment” and that the proclaimed “responsibility to protect” was “nothing but words”.