Skip To Content
Back to Opinion

Conscience and Sudan

This weekend, the clock will run out on the 30-day United Nations deadline given to the Sudanese government to crack down on the killing in the Darfur region. By most accounts, nothing has changed. The so-called Janjaweed militias continue to operate unimpeded, villages continue to burn and villagers continue to flee into exile in Chad, where too many of them die in miserable refugee camps with no food or medicine.

The militias, with the tacit backing of the government in Khartoum, have been engaged in a campaign of slaughter during the past year. What began as a counter-insurgency became ethnic cleansing, with Arab Muslim herders attacking black Muslim farmers, leaving some 50,000 dead and more than 1 million driven from their homes. Pressure from human rights groups and the Bush administration finally put the issue on the world’s agenda last month, but the United Nations has proved unable to act firmly, paralyzed as it has been so often in the past by its blocs of dictatorships and failed states. In the latest instance, what started as a move toward sanctions ended in a toothless agreement that the Khartoum regime had little intention of honoring.

Sudan’s behavior in Darfur shows a seemingly infinite capacity for cynicism and brutality. The current conflict comes on the heels of a two-decade campaign by the government against the Christians and animists in southern Sudan, which left 2 million dead. In sad contrast to other regions of the world, where great power interests stir action, the conscience of humankind seems incapable of rousing itself in those neglected places where it is most needed.

The one hope at this point is the African Union, which has deployed a handful of troops in Darfur and Chad to monitor the abuses and pressure the sides. The monitors have shown honesty and independence so far, a rarity in that torn land. The African Union wants to expand the force and broaden its mandate. Our own government must stay involved and throw its full weight behind the plan.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.