Think back to 13 April 2003. Five years ago. British Airways had just announced it was scrapping Concorde. We were all of us getting on quietly with our lives. And in Sudan, millions of lives were beginning to be torn apart.
In Sudan, every one of those 1800 days that has passed has been the same: fear, hunger, and suffering. There are children, now of school age, who have known nothing but the life of a refugee.
This must end. We must focus the world’s attention on Darfur and end this crisis. That’s why today I’m speaking at a rally, outside the Sudanese Embassy, to call for concerted international action.
The peacekeepers on the ground are struggling against impossible odds. The peace-keeping mission needs to be fully deployed – there are only 9,000 on the ground so far. And they need backup, especially helicopter and air support – and we must get it for them.
Sudan’s closest allies – especially China – must also put pressure Khartoum for peace. Instead of facing this way and that on the Olympics, unsure of whether he can say boo to China or not, Gordon Brown must take a strong stand. He must use the year of the Olympics to speak out about China’s role in Darfur and persuade them to change. And he must not attend any more of the ceremonies associated with the Games. His decision to attend the closing ceremony but not the opening one is the worst kind of compromise.
Today, thanks to protests marking the fifth anniversary of the conflict the eyes of the world are on Sudan. Make your voice heard, too. Because if we keep campaigning, keep protesting, the international community will relent and we will secure peace. You can find out more about the global protests taking place today at www.globefordarfur.org.
Nick Clegg MP
Leader – Liberal Democrats