The milestone was reached last week. In a ceremony on Capitol Hill, 2 very unlikely allies came together to focus on Darfur: Senators Bill Frist and Hillary Clinton became signatures number 999,999 and 1,000,000 in the Million Voices for Darfur Campaign.
Now that the target has been reached, will the US put more pressure on Khartoum? Will the President (who will soon be receiving a copy of each signed card) pool more resources to help end the genocide? Will Washington leverage its relationships with other nations in order to save innocent lives?
Meanwhile, at the African Summit meeting in Gambia, it appears that AU troops will stay in Darfur in order to keep the peace until the end of the year. This is a revised date from their earlier plan to vacate at the end of September. Again, this is a great achievement, as their presence is badly needed in a place that continues to deteriorate.
However, the peace deal that was signed recently continues to disintegrate. Lacking the full backing of everyone in the conflict, it now looks as if everyone needs to go back to both the drawing board and the negotiating table in order to provide the innocent civilians of Darfur with even a sliver of hope.
Success in catastrophes like this are rarely marked on the front end. No matter how many peace deals are signed, we don’t know how workable they are until we can touch the peace on the back end. Hopefully, 1,000,000 concerned citizens will be enough to start action, and hopefully an extension of African troop deployment will result is a safer Darfur. But we’re standing on the scary precipice and won’t know the results until we come out on the other end of this long, dark night.