Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Cease Fire in Darfur

I just received this email:

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson just released a joint statement with Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir that, if implemented, would bring some immediate security and relief to the people of Darfur as well as provide a clear path forward to long-term peace in the region.

We asked Governor Richardson to travel to Sudan to discuss ways to secure peace in Darfur and to end the genocide. The Governor was accompanied by Save Darfur Senior International Coordinator Ambassador (ret.) Lawrence Rossin, Refugees International Executive Director Kenneth Bacon, and Public and International Law and Policy Group senior attorney Amjad Atallah. Since Sunday, when they arrived in Khartoum, Governor Richardson and the delegation have visited Darfur and participated in a variety of meetings with government officials, rebel leaders, humanitarian officials, AU commanders and UN officials.

The promises from President Bashir in this agreement are encouraging. They include commitments to:

* A 60-day ceasefire with an international peace summit to be held before March 15, 2007.
* Sudan's cooperation to work with the African Union and United Nations on the deployment of a hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur.
* Ensuring "zero tolerance" policies for gender-based violence in Darfur.
* Free access for humanitarian aid workers and journalists.

This is excellent news. Perhaps not peace but its a start. If you want to read the full press release, go to here.

It recognizes there needs to be a free flow of aid to the region and the end of violence to the people of the Darfur.

Now before we all celebrate, remember Darfur.

Keep the pressure on the government of the Sudan and the United Nations to ensure the cease-fire is implemented and kept intact. As I said it's a start and it can be the start of something positive finally coming to the region.

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