The weekend was tougher than I thought. We were away from home and I could not get lentils or brown rice at the hotel. I should have planned ahead. Came home, made dinner for the family along with brown rice in the rice cooker, enough to last for a few days. I am tired and very cranky today. The good news is that Hawaii State Senate passed House Concurrent Resolution 304 today, a resolution condemning the abuse of children and child soldiers in Northern Uganda. I am deeply proud of the students who helped make this happen. I was supporting their efforts, particularly the “RESCUE ME” event last weekend, coordinated by the wonderful organization, Invisible Children. Honolulu was one of 100 cities participating in the “Rescue” events.
We are fasting by choice, in part because more than 1 million people in Darfur and other parts of Sudan do not have access to food, water, and health care. The Sudanese government knowingly expelled the 16 aid organizations that provided these basic services in “response” to the indictment of Omar al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court. Last Friday, the Norwegian Refugee Council reported that Sudan has more displaced people than any other country in the world. During 2008, Sudan had 4.9 million IDPs, about one in eight of all IDPs in the world. More than half of these people are in Darfur. Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese are now at risk of starvation and death. It is a game of quid pro quo played out with human lives — and a game in which the international community has yet to realize it is being played for a fool.
I will repeat a question I have asked many times: What will it take for world leaders to exercise the political will to change the behavior of Khartoum? Engagement is good. I believe in diplomacy, quiet or otherwise. But the United States cannot cave to demands that the Government of Sudan should have agreed to before the aid organizations were expelled. The progress made by Gen. Scott Gration and Sen. John Kerry in restoring some of the humanitarian capacity during their recent trips to Sudan promises to, at best, only return us to the status quo before the expulsions, and at a cost. That is absurd. We can no longer support the status quo of the last five years. Why is the international community — including our own leaders here in America — letting the government in Khartoum dictate the rules? They have shown no ability to provide for their own citizens for almost two decades. Instead, they have displaced more than 6 million people, a figure that puts Sudan in the company of nations such as Columbia and Iraq, nations that dominate our foreign policy agenda and our media headlines.
I will repeat again from an earlier post:
1) The international community must coordinate better and hold the government in Khartoum accountable for its commitments and agreements, including the:
- the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)
- the various Darfur agreements
- the agreements with the U.N. to facilitate humanitarian access in Darfur
- the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement.
Perhaps most importantly, the United States must shed the failed policies of the status quo and begin anew in leading a coordinated and comprehensive international effort to build a roadmap for sustainable peace in Sudan. This process must include Sudan’s key economic and political partners, including China, Russia, and Egypt.
The U.N. Security Council, must NOW strengthen the Sudan sanctions committee, truly enforce the arms embargo, and hold accountable those responsible for violating the sanctions regime. We must also hold responsible those indicted by the ICC. That means President al-Bashir.