African leaders should act on Darfur

One of President George W. Bush’s major expressions of concern while on his Rwandan visit was about Darfur. He urged the international community to send peacekeepers there as fast as possible, and expressed disappointment at the slow, bureaucratic workings of the United Nations under whose auspices a hybrid force of 26,000 peacekeepers are supposed to be deployed, but which process has been sluggish.

One of President George W. Bush’s major expressions of concern while on his Rwandan visit was about Darfur. He urged the international community to send peacekeepers there as fast as possible, and expressed disappointment at the slow, bureaucratic workings of the United Nations under whose auspices a hybrid force of 26,000 peacekeepers are supposed to be deployed, but which process has been sluggish.

It is easy to understand his frustration; the United States has made available as much as $100 million to train and equip Darfur-bound troops. It now no longer a question of lack of logistical support on the part of the countries which are supposed to contribute towards peacekeeping in Darfur. One can even say that African countries have been exposed; they sing one song of African brotherhood, but are unwilling to give help when it comes to crunch time.

Life in Darfur continues to be precarious: women are still raped, people are killed, and more and more become refugees either inside their own country or in Chad, where they are even being denied entry.

Rwanda, that suffered a genocide and therefore knows how painful it is to be left alone to struggle for freedom, has already greatly contributed to the AU-UN hybrid force with thousands of troops. The situation there is not what Rwanda would wish for any country, and so it contributes willingly to create a better status quo. But it should not take the direct experience of genocide for countries to take greater responsibility. Rwanda should be example enough.

Where is Africa’s conscience ? Shall Africa continue mumbo-jumboing about forming a United States of Africa and many other grandiose continental programmes, when even the least they could do – contributing troops for the pacification of Darfur – has degenerated into complex political calculations as Africans continue to die and live dehumanized lives?

America and Canada have provided the logistics; let African leaders rise to the challenge and do their bit so that peace returns to Darfur.
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