Global Rally For Darfur

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In an event billed “Global Day For Action On Darfur,� hundreds of thousands of people around the world took to the streets Sunday to protest the on-going killings in Sudan’s Darfur region. Some protestors in New York City also called for the United Nations to focus on other killings in Africa, such as in Northern Uganda.

In New York former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright also appeared in Central Park to join the protest. Gatherings occurred in major cities throughout the world. The heat is now on the Sudan government. World leaders are gathered in New York City for the General Assembly.

The demonstrators want the UN to send peacekeepers to Darfur. The Sudan government says it would consider such a move a “hostile act� and defend itself. Thin-stretched 7,000 African Union peacekeepers are set to leave at the end of the month when their mandate expires. The AU troops don’t have sufficient manpower and materiel—moreover, they aren’t mandated for any robust military engagements.

The U.N. Security Council has approved a resolution for peacekeepers. It’s unlikely any country would contribute to such a force without the approval of the Khartoum regime. A peace deal to end conflict in Darfur was signed in May between the Sudan government and the guerrilla army, the Sudan Liberation Movement it had battled. Two smaller guerrilla groups rejected the deal and fighting continues. There are reports that some of the guerrilla groups have splintered and have been causing mayhem. But protestors blame the Sudan government for instigating the conflict and allowing it to get out of hand.

Protestors wore blue hats – UN peacekeepers wear blue helmets – and waved blue clothing.

“They are finishing our people,� said Ayela Ayat, a demonstrator who said she was a Sudanese now living in New York.

Her friend Joyce Akello, who said she is Ugandan added: “I am here to support my sister and also to tell the United Nations ‘shame on them.’ They have ignored genocide of Acholi in Uganda.� Her reference was to the ongoing 20-year war in Uganda. More than 2 million civilians have been herded into camps by the government there, ostensibly to protect them from the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army guerrillas. But the UN reports that more than 1,000 people die in the camps through lack of food and adequate medication—there are also reports of  rapes and attacks by government soldiers meant to protect the civilians.

In the case of Darfur, hundreds of thousands are believed to have died and millions more displaced from their homes.

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