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Genocide network calls for strong support for AU in Darfur


Genocide Intervention Network

Pushed by Citizen Action, State Dept. Pledges Accountability for Perpetrators of Atrocities

Asst. Sec. Jendayi Frazer, Having Failed Darfur in Past, Promises Renewed Support

Genocide Intervention Network Argues for Strong Support for Interim African Union Peacekeepers and Expanded UN Force

Oct 26, 2006 (WASHINGTON) — In an “open letter to the American people,” US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer has responded to calls for concrete action on Darfur by pledging to “hold accountable those individuals responsible for atrocities.” The Genocide Intervention Network, which mobilized hundreds of Americans to fax Dr. Frazer’s office with messages supporting increased US involvement in Darfur, welcomes her initiative on this issue.

The Genocide Intervention Network appreciates the United States’ recognition that accountability for genocide will require a “larger, more robust UN peacekeeping operation,” as Dr. Frazer writes. Government-supported militias in Darfur have claimed the lives of 450,000 civilians and displaced 2.5 million people since 2003.

In July, Dr. Frazer told a Darfur donors conference in Brussels that the United States “has been proactive in providing assistance” to the African Union and claimed, “a successful resolution to the situation in Darfur is one of the highest foreign policy priorities for President Bush.” Yet she failed to follow this rhetoric with any pledge of new funds for the African Union — misleadingly claiming funds already appropriated by Congress were a new contribution.

“Unlike her earlier statements, we hope in this case Dr. Frazer’s rhetoric will be followed by action and concrete support for the peacekeepers,” says GI-Net Executive Director Mark Hanis. “At least $240 million from the United States alone will be required to support this vital firebreak against genocide,” Hanis adds. “This is nearly four times current US funding for the African Union peacekeepers.”

Even once the government of Sudan allows the UN peacekeeping force to expand from Southern Sudan into Darfur, a UN force will still take six to nine months to be mobilized.

“The African Union peacekeepers must be strongly supported through the interim — yet the current budget only supports six weeks of AU operations,” Hanis says.

The European Union is also an integral part of the funding for AU peacekeepers, having donated $307 million this year, and the Arab League has pledged to help fund the peacekeeping effort as well.

Ultimately, GI-Net argues, the AU peacekeepers will be unable to stop the genocide, a position Dr. Frazer shares. In August, she said the African Union force was “stretched to the point of breaking,” and conditions have only worsened in the ensuing months. Despite this reality, the African Union is currently Darfurians’ only protection, and should be supported to the fullest extent.

“The United States must ensure the AU force is carrying out its expanded mandate under the Darfur Peace Agreement signed by the government of Sudan, and it must give the African Union the resources to do so,” Hanis says.

The Darfur Peace Agreement, signed in May, authorizes the African Union to establish demilitarized zones around refugee camps, currently the sites of many attacks; maintain demilitarized zones around major roads; verify disarmament of militias; and support efforts to “completely eliminate the threat posed by the Janjaweed/armed militia to the civilian population.”

“We are pleased that Assistant Secretary Frazer has responded to US citizens’ calls for action with a renewed commitment to end the genocide in Darfur,” Hanis says. “We hope this will be followed with concrete action through vigorous financial and logistical support of the interim AU peacekeepers and continued focus on an expanded UN mission.”

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