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December 31, 2004 - Image 25

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-12-31

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In a reversal that demonstrates that
international pressure can make a
difference, the Sudanese government
reluctantly agreed to allow 3,000
African Union troops to monitor the
tenuous cease-fire and escort aid
convoys; but they have no mandate
to protect civilians. The Sudanese
army and police continue to attack
camps and forcibly relocate internal-
ly displaced people.
Recent reports describe govern-
ment forces burning shelters, smash-
ing water pipes, beating and shoot-
ing people and refusing access to aid
agencies. On Nov. 8, the Sudanese
government signed a historical peace
agreement, accepting a no-fly zone
over the region and promising to
disarm the Janjaweed and improve
access to aid. The next day, more
violence was reported in camps.
The United Nations is conducting
an investigation to determine
whether the crisis constitutes geno-
cide. This marks the first time in the
history of the Security Council that
Article 8 of the Genocide
Convention has been invoked, which
is a most welcome occurrence; but it
is not enough by itself. By the time
the assessment is complete, at least
another 30,000 people will be dead.
Confronted with the realities of a
grim future, we must increase pres-
sure on the U.S. government and
international community to per-
suade the Security Council to do
what must be done to end the vio-
lence and suffering. Sudan must be
forced to improve access to the
camps for humanitarian aid workers
and supplies, and it must be sanc-
tioned until the Janjaweed is dis-
armed and the region is secured.
The African Union troops must be
given an expanded mandate under
Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter to
protect civilians. Should the no-fly
zone over Darfur be violated,
enforcement by NATO forces must
be authorized.
Additional humanitarian aid is
desperately needed. Governments
must ,do their part to ensure that the
U.N. humanitarian programs are
functioning at full capacity and
meeting the vast needs. Support
from individuals to non-governmen-
tal organizations providing humani-
tarian assistance is also essential.

Jews Are Helping

American Jewish World Service
(AJWS) launched a Sudan

Emergency Appeal in April to help
meet these needs. To date, $500,000
has been raised to rehabilitate water
sources, construct sanitation facilities
and provide therapeutic feeding cen-
ters to care for the thousands of mal-
nourished children. I surveyed these
programs when I was there and left
overwhelmingly satisfied that lives
are being saved.
As a result of my assessment,
AJWS is also providing educational
and recreational materials and pro-
grams for orphaned children; zinc
treatment for children suffering from
diarrhea; and because rape is being
used as a strategic weapon against
women and their families, we are
providing reproductive health care
and addressing the consequences of
sexual violence against women.
Financial support for these ongoing
efforts is critical.
The Jewish response is growing.
The Jewish Coalition for Disaster
Relief, comprised of 45 national
Jewish organizations, created a
Jewish Coalition for Sudan Relief
that has raised about $170,000, and
the Reform movement has spear-
headed its own campaign, raising
about $120,000. A number of
Jewish organizations have joined us
as members of the Save Darfur
Coalition, a broadly diverse group of
more than 100 faith-based and
humanitarian organizations advocat-
ing for the people of Darfur. Other
Jewish organizations are responding
with humanitarian aid.
Until conditions are established
that permit the voluntary, safe and
dignified return of those displaced
by the conflict and violators of
human rights are held accountable,
our diligence must not wane.
Leviticus teaches, "Thou shalt not
stand idly by the blood of your
neighbor." This holiday season, let
us celebrate with our loved ones, but
let us also resolve to do all that we
can to end human suffering and pre-
vent genocide whenever, wherever
and to whomever it occurs. I

Ruth W. Messinger is president and
executive director of American Jewish
World Service, an international devel-
opment and emergency relief organiza-
tion. For more information, to make a
donation or take action, visit

This article first appeared in the
Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles

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