The clock is ticking

Nearly two years after the House of Representatives and the Senate declared the atrocities occurring in the Darfur region of Sudan to be genocide, little has been done to stem the mass killings of non-Arabs in Darfur by Janjaweed Arab militias.

It is encouraging that both the Senate and the House have recently passed bills to address the situation. Conference committee action is still pending to reconcile minor differences between both bills. The final measure is expected to support an international peace force and sanctions against the Sudanese government for their support of the Janjaweed militias.

Unfortunately, time is passing.

Last weekend’s rally in Washington D.C. with the theme “Save Darfur” was a welcome opportunity to increase awareness of a disaster that to date has taken more than 400,000 lives, and led to the displacement of 2.5 million people currently living in refugee camps on the Chad border of Sudan. Another 1 million still living in Darfur are at risk of extermination.

Speaking on the Rwanda genocide in 2000, President Bush affirmed that he would not allow anything like that to happen again. Organizers of the rally are encouraging Americans to send the president the following message:

“Dear President Bush,

“During your first year in the White House, you wrote in the margins of a report on the Rwandan genocide, ‘Not on my watch.’

“I urge you to live up to those words by using the power of your office to support a stronger multi-national force to protect the civilians of Darfur.”

You can go to the “Save Darfur coalition” Web site — — and join in sending that message to the president, or compose your own message.

It may seem like a small step but action is urgently needed and any part we all can play in bringing that action about is valuable. Lives are being lost with every tick of the clock.