Darfur: the time for talk is over

Birgitta Ohlsson, foreign affairs spokesperson for Sweden's Liberal Party, calls for less talk, more action on Darfur.

In late November this year I met former U.S. Marine Captain Brian Steidle, who was visiting Stockholm to show his movie “The Devil Came on Horseback”. His movie exposes the genocide taking place in Darfur as seen through the eyes of an American who has since returned to the US to take action to stop the tragedy.

Brian’s movie was also very emotional for me. It took me to back to the summer of 2004, when I went to Darfur. The faces of the victims of torture, the raped women, starving children and the images of burnt villages will never leave my mind. 3.5 million men, women, and children are completely reliant on international aid in Darfur, an area about the size of Texas or France.

The current crisis in Darfur began in 2003; what is most frustrating is the fact that we´re having almost the same discussion now as we did then. Discussions about UN-troops (will they ever show up?). Discussing severe sanctions against the Sudanese government (will they ever appear?) Debating political agendas with no result. Listening to the ‘never agains’ and mentioning Rwanda, Srebrenica, Halabja until they don´t mean a thing any longer.

We´ve kind of heard the current discussion before, with the endless talk about diplomacy.

Of course we need a renewed Darfur peace process and of course world leaders must make peace in Darfur a top priority on the level of the Mideast-conflict and Iraq.

Of course we need more humanitarian aid and put pressure on China to use its leverage with Khartoum. We need a credible peacekeeping force to protect civilians and to establish a real ceasefire between the different sides in the conflict. The UN must recruit and deploy the hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force authorized by Resolution 1769.

But there are many other political issues that we never ever even discuss in the context of Darfur: a no-fly zone; a long term federal solution for Sudan; strong sanctions against the Sudanese government.

The people of Darfur have been suffering to long. We have to ask ourselves the question: if Darfur is not genocide, what is?