Sudan: The Tragedy of SUDAN

Fifty thousand are dead, thousands more will die, and more than 1 million have lost their homes. Simon Robinson visits Darfur and witnesses what is happening while the world dithers

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WHAT CAN BE DONE TO SAVE DARFUR? SUSAN RICE, ASSISTANT Secretary of State for Africa during the Clinton years and an adviser to John Kerry, criticizes the Administration for not "taking action consonant with the magnitude of the catastrophe." At the same time, Rice acknowledges, "I don't think there's a huge difference" between Kerry and Bush on how to handle Sudan. Neither candidate advocates sending U.S. troops to Africa to end the fighting. The Administration's current strategy is to "calibrate" the pressure on Sudan's government, until it fully disarms the Janjaweed. But human-rights observers who have visited the region say that unless the world moves rapidly to impose economic and military sanctions against Sudan, tens of thousands more could die in a matter of months, either at the hands of the Janjaweed or from starvation and disease. Sudan has agreed to allow the African Union to increase the number of its soldiers and observers in Darfur from 300 to 2,000. But the soldiers' mandate stops them from intervening in the violence, and it would require 50 times as many troops to keep the peace in an area so big.

For Darfurians like Melkha Musa Haroun, the horrors they have witnessed will never fade. After an attack last year she fled with her four children and spent eight months hiding from the Janjaweed, walking from village to village until she found refuge in a camp. Now, one year later, she recalls watching Janjaweed fighters on a rampage deciding whom to kill. A fighter unwrapped swaddling cloth and rolled a newborn baby onto the dirt. The baby was a girl, so they left her. Then the Janjaweed spotted a 1-year-old boy and decided he was a future enemy. In front of a group of onlookers, a man tossed the boy into the air as another took aim and shot him dead. "It was the worse thing I ever saw," Haroun says softly, casting her eyes downward as she hugs her baby tightly to her breast. --With reporting by Massimo Calabresi/Washington, Sam Dealey/al-Fashir and Stephan Faris/Bahai

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