August 24, 2006
TWO YEARS AFTER DECLARING DARFUR, SUDAN A “GENOCIDE EMERGENCY”, UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM CALLS FOR A RENEWED COMMITMENT TO STOP THE ONGOING CARNAGE
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Two years after the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum issued its first-ever “genocide emergency,” the genocide in Darfur continues and threatens to destabilize the entire region. The Museum’s Committee on Conscience, which has played a key role in mobilizing thousands on Darfur, calls on the international community to redouble its efforts to the stop violence against civilians and their way of life that is largely sponsored by the Sudanese government and its allied militias.
“The current African Union force lacks the resources and mandate to adequately protect the civilian population, and the international community must address this,” said John Heffernan, Director of the Museum’s Genocide Prevention Initiative. “Without adequate security people will continue to die from violence, disease and starvation and nobody will return to their homes.”
Darfurian refugees spilling into an already overburdened Chad are threatening to enlarge the conflict’s scope as Sudanese-government-aligned forces continue their attacks into Chadian territory. Darfurian rebels also are using Chad as a staging ground for reprisal attacks.
“As we see the aftereffects of the 1994 Rwandan genocide manifest themselves in Congo today where millions have died, similarly the crisis in Darfur has the potential to become a much larger conflict if steps are not taken to reign it in and bring the perpetrators to justice,” continues Heffernan.
Hundreds of thousands of Darfurians have already died and thousands of women have been raped. More than two million people have been driven from their homes. Those trapped in Darfur struggle to survive in a harsh desert environment. Thousands die each day from exposure and lack of food, water, and shelter. Those who have escaped to an already politically and economically unstable Chad face deteriorating conditions in overcrowded refugee camps.
“Sustained pressure by the international community must be applied to the Sudanese government and rebel groups to comply with the benchmarks enumerated in the Darfur Peace Agreement,” said Heffernan. “Without buy in from all the groups that need to implement the terms of the agreement, peace and stability have little chance to take hold in Darfur.”
In July 2004 the Museum’s Committee on Conscience declared a “Genocide Emergency” for Darfur. Since then the Committee has been working to educate policy makers and the American public about the urgent need to take action to end the genocide there. The Museum has mounted a display on the emergency in Darfur; held educational programming on the topic featuring members of Congress and Holocaust survivors; hosted two national conferences for student leaders engaged on the issue; and more. The Committee recently launched a weekly podcast series and blog, “Voices on Genocide Prevention,” featuring leaders in government, media and advocacy addressing how citizens can get involved in genocide prevention efforts.