15 June 2005

From London to Darfur

My last hurrah to my visit in London. As I was walking down the street last Wednesday evening, I saw a young man standing in the middle of the sidewalk, his arms spread out like an angel, covered with folded white slips of paper. He was handing one piece to each passer-by and with a subtle dance, slowly and precisely shuffling those papers down into his temporarily vacant hand. I made eye contact, and he handed one to me, murmuring “Please help the people in Darfur. Send this to your MP.” He really was an angel. I took one, knowing full well that I did not have an MP, but figuring I’d find a way to get the word out. This is what the letter said:

Reference: People need Protection in Darfur, Sudan.

I am dismayed that an estimated 400,000 civilians in Darfur, Sudan have been killed by violence, malnutrition and disease since February 2003. Widespread atrocities, massacres and mass rapes continue, while civilians continue to perish at a rate of 15,000 per month according to the World Health Organization. Also, over 2 million civilians have fled their homes, with this number set to rise quickly over the next few months. Arab militias, with support from the Government of Sudan have burned over 3,200 villages. Millions of civilians need protection now in the area the size of France.

In January 2004, the British Government signed the Stockholm Declaration which states, “We are committed to shouldering our responsibility to protect groups identified as potential victims of genocide. However, we are not fulfilling out responsibility to provide protection for vulnerable citizens in Darfur.

Will you please urge the British Government to push hard at the UN Security Council for a UN resolution which gives the African Union forces the authority to carry out a peace enforcement mission under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, and to recommend the deployment of at least 25,000 troops? This resolution must explicitly state that the primary objective of the African Union forces in Darfur is the protection of civilians under threat from the Janjaweed militias and the Government of Sudan. Also, this mandate must support the African Union forces with finance and logistics.

Also, a Parliamentary Statement has been circulated to parliamentarians stating: “Her majesty’s Government should propose that the UN Security Council should mandate peace-enforcement operations in Darfur. Forces should be led by the African Union and supported with finance and logistics through a UN mandate.” Will you please add your signature to this Parliamentary Statement (if you have not already done so)? This Statement can be downloaded at www.protectdarfur.org.

I look forward to hearing from you soon on this urgent issue.

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