Jim Wallis: Peace on Earth?
Two months ago, we helped convene a group of 24 evangelical Christian leaders to launch an Evangelicals for Darfur campaign. Full-page ads ran in several national and many local newspapers around the country, along with radio ads. Articles about the campaign appeared in 167 publications. We urged President Bush to use his "personal leadership in supporting the deployment of a strong U.N. peacekeeping force and multilateral economic sanctions." That campaign generated nearly six million "impressions," and the coverage of it nearly 11 million. Our message was heard.
But while the president has consistently said the right things about Darfur, there has yet to be strong enough action. The situation in Darfur continues to get worse. News reports this morning tell of a genocide without borders as the killing is now also taking place in neighboring Chad, where 90,000 people have fled their homes to find safe shelter. Yesterday, the United Nations evacuated 71 aid workers from the largest refugee camp in Darfur after their compound was attacked. As more and more people die or are made refugees, the government of Sudan continues to block the deployment of a strong U.N. peacekeeping force authorized by the Security Council months ago to expand the existing African Union force.
In his last official news conference, outgoing U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said that more could be done in Darfur: "There are measures short of force that could be used: political pressure, economic sanctions, isolation, and of course in the last resort, there is the use of force." The Bush administration must quickly move from words to real actions. Maximum political and diplomatic pressure should be used at all possible points to force Sudan to accept additional peacekeepers. Key Security Council members, especially Russia and China, are obstructing U.N. action; the U.S. needs to increase its efforts to gain their cooperation. And additional actions should be taken against Sudan, including targeted sanctions against top government officials while enforcing existing sanctions. During the recent visit of British Prime Minister Tony Blair to Washington, he and the president discussed measures that included a no-fly zone over Darfur and a possible naval blockade.
As we prepare to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, let us keep in our hearts, our prayers, and our actions the people of Darfur, Iraq, and everywhere in this troubled world where there is no peace. Their lives may depend on us.