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Monday, September 18, 2006

Darfur, atrocity in slow motion

UNITED NATIONS - President Bush will address world leaders at the United Nations on Tuesday amid controversy over the presence in New York of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad . Although the administration vows that there will be no official recognition of Ahmadinejad's visit that is not the only concern for this UN address.

The two year conflict in the Sudan, which threatens genocide by the government in Khartoum has prompted politicians and citizen groups to call on President Bush to demand an international effort directed at imposing economic sanctions combined with a UN peace keeping initiative to intercede on behalf of the Sudanese refugees.

Excerpt from the NY Times 10/5:: by Jeffrey Gettleman

The number of people killed in Sudan’s Darfur conflict has reached into the hundreds of thousands — not tens of thousands as has often been reported,

according to an article appearing Friday in the journal Science. By using scientific sampling techniques and data from camps for displaced persons, two researchers based in the United States estimated that as many as 255,000 people have died, though they believe the actual number may be much higher. “We could easily be talking about 400,000 deaths,” said John Hagan, a sociologist at Northwestern University and an author of the article, along with Alberto Palloni, a demographer at the University of Wisconsin. “And when you’re talking about genocide, it’s essential to properly identify the scale of death,” Dr. Hagan said in a telephone interview. The Sudanese government has not released comprehensive casualty figures, but health organizations working in Darfur have surveyed survivors at random about family members who were killed. In their article, “Death in Darfur,” Dr. Hagan and Dr. Palloni used seven of these surveys to build projections of the death toll, which ranged from 10,000 deaths per month in 2004 to around 5,000 per month more recently. These estimates include natural deaths, though Dr. Hagan said that number was only 10 percent to 15 percent of the total. He said part of his research was based on a rough ratio of one death per every 14 people living in a camp. “It’s an extremely challenging research environment,” he said. “But ultimately, you’ve got to come up with numbers.” Dr. Hagan attributed underreporting to the obvious difficulties of physically counting victims in a conflict as inaccessible as Darfur’s, as well as a general tendency by the news media to use conservative estimates about unverifiable casualty claims.

For more information on the effort to rescue the situation in Sudanese Darfur from further escalation please visit http://www.savedarfur.org/pages/weekly_action_network

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