David Cameron: The world must act to stop these atrocities

Share

Three weeks ago, I visited Darfur with the Conservative international development spokesman, Andrew Mitchell. Even in the short time since we were there, the situation has deteriorated further. El Fasher, the town where we stayed, and the hub of the aid effort, has come under direct threat from the Janjaweed militia. The UN and humanitarian agencies have been forced to evacuate their staff.

That is the depressing backdrop for today's worldwide Day for Darfur.

I saw at first hand how women are among the foremost victims of that conflict. The Janjaweed militia have deliberately chosen rape and sexual violence as weapons in their terrifying campaign of ethnic cleansing.

At the al-Salaam camp, I heard women describe the daily terror they face when they venture outside the camp to collect firewood. They are an easy target for attack, and run the risk of rape, abduction, assault and murder every time they leave the camp.

It is hard to estimate how many women and girls in Darfur have been raped or abused, as they are often shamed into silence. But it is clear that there has been an increase in such attacks since African Union (AU) troops reduced their "firewood patrols" this summer.

The world must act in the face of these horrors. The AU peacekeeping force should resume its regular patrols, while we could help to expand the supply of more efficient stoves, to reduce the need for women to leave camps to gather firewood. But we also need to confront head on the political causes of this humanitarian crisis.

Make no mistake, the Janjaweed militia are doing the dirty work of the regime in Khartoum. A month ago in Addis Ababa, the Sudanese regime led the world to believe it was serious about ending this conflict. The next day, its forces attacked from the air - and the Janjaweed from the ground - the town in Darfur where the next round of peace talks were to take place.

The world has been patient beyond measure with Khartoum. It is time for a tougher approach. We must insist on a robust peacekeeping force and an indefinite extension of the AU mandate beyond June 2007. The force should be bolstered with expertise and equipment from UN and individual governments. Peacekeeping troops should be given a specific mandate to use all necessary means to defend civilians.

We must work hard to get a political process back on track. But, above all, we must make clear to the individuals at the top of the regime that their actions will bring consequences. Britain should support the freezing of the assets abroad of key Sudanese leaders, and travel bans against them. The International Criminal Court must be strongly encouraged to pursue its criminal investigations with the utmost vigour.

Today is - ironically - International Human Rights Day. It will have a hollow ring in the camps of Darfur. We owe it to the people I saw in those camps a month ago to speak up - and act - on their behalf.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Gary Catona has worked with a number of high profile singers including Stevie Wonder, pictured  

High pitch: In search of the next Whitney

Simmy Richman
Margaret Thatcher resigned on 22nd November 1990  

Nicola Sturgeon's rare achievement

Jane Merrick
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin