Save Darfur Coalition Applauds UN Vote on Peacekeepers, 
Urges Swift International Action to Deploy Forces

“We must turn words on paper into boots on the ground” 

Washington, DC – The Save Darfur Coalition today maintained cautious optimism following the United Nations Security Council decision to authorize a U.N. peacekeeping force for Darfur, Sudan. The 12-0-3 vote is a clear demonstration of the international community’s will to end the genocide in Darfur.  The international community, however, must now overcome the Government of Sudan’s objections to the U.N. peacekeeping force before the desperately needed troops can be deployed.

“While we applaud the hard work that has gone into passing this resolution, the United States and other Security Council member nations must now turn their attention to making sure that this newly authorized peacekeeping force is actually deployed, and deployed soon,” said David Rubenstein of the Save Darfur Coalition.

The peacekeeping mission will function under a similarly worded mandate to current U.N. peacekeeping mission in south Sudan, and is authorized to take “all necessary means” to protect civilians from attack and ensure the unfettered continuation of the peace process as agreed to in the Darfur Peace Agreement.  The U.N. mission in Darfur would comprise up to 22,600 military and police personnel.

“Only the actual presence of these peacekeepers will provide the security the people of Darfur so desperately need,” continued Rubenstein.  “We must turn words on paper into boots on the ground.”

The United Nations will solicit troops from contributing countries for the Darfur UNMIS force with deployment slated to begin no later than October 1, 2006.  Gaining the permission of the Government of Sudan remains a significant hurdle to that timetable, however, one which will take a marked increase in international pressure to overcome.  A recent attempt by President Bush to coax Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s cooperation fell flat when President Bashir first refused to meet with President Bush’s envoy, Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer.  He then rejected Bush’s offer after finally agreeing to meet with Frazer two days later.  President Bush’s message to President Bashir included an offer to honor him with a meeting in September if Bashir agreed to the U.N. force.

Since 2003, the Sudanese government-sponsored genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan has killed over 400,000 men, women, and children, forced 2.5 million Darfurians to flee their homes, and left more than 3.5 million individuals reliant on humanitarian aid.  Within the last few months, the rates of both systematic rape of Darfuri women and fatal violence against humanitarian aid workers have increased dramatically.

On September 17, the Save Darfur Coalition will join individuals around the world in calling for the immediate deployment of the U.N. peacekeeping force to Darfur. In New York City’s Central Park, “Save Darfur Now: Voices to End Genocide” will be the centerpiece event in a global day of action (www.dayfordarfur.org). In New York, multi-platinum, award winning duo Big & Rich will be joined by rock group O.A.R. in a rally in the East Meadow of Central Park. Additional events will be held in Paris, London, Abuja, and numerous other cities globally. The New York rally will coincide with the 61st meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in the city. The Save Darfur Coalition will be announcing additional speakers and performers for “Save Darfur Now: Voices to End Genocide” (www.savedarfur.org/now)  in the coming weeks.

The Save Darfur Coalition comprises 175 human rights, humanitarian, and faith-based organizations united in support of stronger action to end the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

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