21 Dec 2006 Black Activists Hopeful New U.N. Chief Will Treat Darfur Genocide Seriously
A pledge made by newly-installed United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to become personally involved in efforts to end the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan is being met with hope by members of the Project 21 black leadership network. Project 21 members are critical of the organization’s outgoing chief, Kofi Annan, for not acting decisively to end the bloodshed.
Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister who has taken the oath of office but will not formally replace outgoing secretary-general Annan until January 1, 2007, said, “The suffering of the people of Darfur is simply unacceptable.” Ban further pledged to “make himself directly and personally engaged” in efforts to end the violence.
“Given that United Nations forces saved his country from being overrun by aggressors just over 50 years ago, I believe that Ban Ki-moon brings to the organization a more compassionate understanding of what should be done in this situation,” said Project 21 member and U.S. Navy veteran Kevin Martin. “Ban appears to have nothing but disdain for the genocide that is occurring in Darfur. This is a refreshing change from the seemingly apathetic lack of action on the part of Kofi Annan.”
Since early 2003, Sudanese government forces and paramilitary “Janjaweed” militias have targeted civilian supporters of anti-government rebels in Sudan’s Darfur region. This reign of terror, officially described by the U.S. Government as genocide, has caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions of others.
Attempts to reach a negotiated settlement have thus far been fruitless. There has been talk of sending U.N. peacekeepers to bolster the 7,000 African Union troops already on the ground, but the only U.N. action of late has been a vote to send human rights investigators. Trying to deflect criticism of U.N. efforts, Annan has blamed the Sudanese government for not being cooperative.
“Secretary-General Ban recognizes that the United Nations has been tarnished by corruption and is infamous for its indecisiveness, and even apathy, toward true human suffering in our world. I am hopeful that his pledges are heartfelt,” added Project 21’s Martin. “While it is a shame that our nation will be losing the strong leadership of John Bolton as our United Nations ambassador, it is reassuring that he says Ban is the ‘right person’ for the job at this time.”
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.