Thanks to your efforts and the efforts of many others working to create a lasting peace in Darfur, I am pleased to report we have seen significant progress in recent weeks. On May 5, the Sudanese government and Darfur’s largest rebel faction signed the Darfur Peace Agreement, laying out a plan to end three years of violence and raising hopes for a lasting peace in Darfur. There is a much more to do, however, before that hope is realized. In the next two weeks, the Sudanese government and the two remaining rebel factions must come to terms in order to ensure a strong building block for a lasting peace. With or without additional signers, it is imperative that the parties live up to their commitments to end the genocide and rebuild Darfur. Another significant step forward was taken just yesterday, as the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution demanding strict observance of the peace agreement, and calling for a quick transition from the current African Union peacekeeping force to a stronger UN force. Prior to the signing of the peace agreement, Sudanese President Bashir opposed a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur by saying that there was no peace to keep. With this peace agreement, however, that argument has been rendered moot. Soon there will be a joint UN-African Union assessment mission dispatched to Darfur to assess the situation. Following their return, the stage will be set for UN Security Council consideration of a second resolution to actually authorize the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force. These are real, substantive steps forward, and you helped make them happen. In fact, just one day after over 50,000 rallied on the National Mall in Washington, DC, and thousands more rallied at events across the country, President Bush dispatched Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick to the peace talks to make sure that an agreement was reached. Upon his return, Deputy Secretary Zoellick personally called the Save Darfur Coalition to express his thanks for the level of U.S. activism which helped make the peace deal possible. In an interview last week, he said that “of all I've dealt with in foreign policy over some 20 years that I'm not sure I've ever seen as much broad support from churches, from communities and universities.”Your collective voices have helped accomplish amazing results thus far!But much more still remains to be done. Work at the UN is far from over, funding for humanitarian aid and peacekeeping falls short and puts millions of lives at risk. And above all, the people of Darfur still must contend with the dual threats of violence and starvation every day. As we continue the fight, there will be many more opportunities for you take action and help make a difference.
Best regards, David Rubenstein
Save Darfur Coalition