On the Record

Assessing the Situation in Darfur

Roberta Cohen

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In this one-hour show, Cohen assesses the deteriorating security situation in Darfur and the dangers of regional war as the conflict spills over into Chad and the Central African Republic. With Sudan’s government “awash with oil, money and arms,” influencing it is difficult, but possibilities do exist to exert pressure on Sudan’s protectors, namely China and the Arab League.

Indeed, one “bright spot,” Cohen noted, was that sub-Saharan African leaders have begun to make known to China their support for an international force in Darfur even without Sudan’s consent and their objection to policies that protect Sudan. The US has also made its concerns known to China’s leaders, and China itself appears to have begun to realize that the increasing lawlessness in Sudan could endanger its oil interests and that its reputation in Africa could also suffer from its political shielding of Sudan. Another encouraging sign is the role Arab civil society groups have begun to play in calling for an international force. It is important as well for the international community to implement sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes against a sizeable number of Sudanese officials, to provide information on violations to the International Criminal Court, to expand disinvestment campaigns, and to introduce financial and economic restrictions, particularly in the oil sector. Four million people in Darfur or two-thirds of the population are now totally dependent on international relief aid, and a growing number, at least 1 million, are now beyond humanitarian reach as attacks on humanitarian aid workers and their convoys accelerate. Cohen called on the new UN Secretary-General and new US Presidential Envoy on Sudan to take action to promote a political solution to end this “slow motion genocide.”

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