A big step

just a step

May 15, 2006

Sadly, President Bush was correct when he described the peace deal between the Sudanese government and the main rebel group in Darfur as offering only "the beginnings of hope."

Little more than a week later, violence continues in a ravaged region where more than 300,000 innocents have been savagely murdered and from which 2 million tribal villagers have been driven to the hellish half-lives of refugee camps.

If anything, pressure has only increased on the United States and its European and African allies in the peace talks to remain on the scene and actively involved. So volatile is the climate that confused and terrified refugees hacked to death a Sudanese translator shortly after the treaty was signed. U.N. envoy Jan Egeland warned Thursday that peril for humanitarian groups is so great that some aid organizations may have to withdraw.

The Bush administration deserves credit for the dogged and determined effort that produced the peace agreement. But now that same determination and more must be applied to the peace deal's implementation.

Close attention will be required to make sure Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir makes good on his commitment to disarm the brutal Janjaweed militia, which despite his denials has been sacking Darfur villages with Khartoum's apparent blessing. Two holdout rebel groups must also be brought into the agreement, and the rebels, too, must be held to their commitment to disarm. U.N. peacekeepers must be speedily dispatched, but in the meantime, all available assistance should be provided to the overwhelmed African Union forces.

Rescue may be at hand in Darfur, but it hasn't arrived yet.

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