Peril in Sudan

The worsening humanitarian disaster in western Sudan, where thousands of people have been killed and almost a million made homeless by government-backed forces, will test whether the world has learned anything from its failure to stop the genocide in Rwanda 10 years ago. The UN, the US, the EU and African states must press the Sudanese government to halt attacks on civilians and to let aid agencies in. Absent swift international action, Sudan could be another case of outside neglect allowing famine and disease to consume a nation.

For two decades, the Muslim Arab elite has responded ruthlessly to people’s demands. After a cease-fire was declared in 2002 in the civil war between the government and rebels in the south, Khartoum turned its forces on African rebels in the Darfur region in the west.

Throughout Darfur villages have been bombed and their inhabitants killed, raped and forced into government-run concentration camps, where they are preyed upon further by militia fighters. Some near-starving people are refusing aid for fear of retribution. Famine is also looming large. Peace talks between Khartoum and the rebels began this week in Chad, but are faltering for want of outside pressure. The US should use its leverage with Khartoum to demand that aid agencies and humanitarian monitors have unhindered access to the displaced. — The New York Times