African Union monitors report civilians burned alive in Darfur

Reuters is reporting that Janjawid militias shackled villagers and burned them alive during recent massacres in Darfur. These reports come from a document authored by African Union observers deployed to Darfur earlier this month. The document makes clear that attacks on villagers in Darfur are continuing despite the ceasefire, though observers say that cannot confirm that Sudanese forces have been fighting alongside militiamen.

African Union officials are meeting in Accra on Thursday to discuss peace strategies for Darfur with Kofi Annan. It’s likely to be a busy day – already on the calendar are discussions between Annan, Cote d’Ivoire’s Laurent Gbagbo and rebel leaders to discuss the ongoing situation Ivorians refer to as “no war, no peace”.

While the EU is stepping to the plate and pressuring Sudan with possible sanctions, Colin Powell has made it clear that the US’s pressure on Sudan won’t extend – at this point – to military intervention, though Britain and Australia have expressed willingness to commit troops to an international intervention.

The talk of intervention is clearly making Khartoum nervous – foreign minister Osman Ismail has made clear that he would view foreign involvement as “attack” and that Sudan would retaliate. While the Khartoum government is generally about as credible as former Iraqi Minister of Intelligence Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, they make one valid point in their otherwise absurd critique of US Congress’s nonbinding genocide declaration: “The international community has so far contributed only about 20 percent of the resources needed in Darfur despite the outcry over the situation.” Indeed, everyone’s rhetoric on Darfur would have a great deal more credibility if nations stepped up to support the desperately underfunded relief efforts in Darfur.

Want to put your money where your mouth is on Darfur? Join me in supporting Doctors Without Borders/MSF – or visit Passion of the Present for a good list of other NGOs doing work in Darfur.

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