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Time is the enemy in Sudan crisis

The killing and raping in Sudan continues. Fifty-thousand villagers are dead, 1.5-million have fled their homes and countless thousands are hiding, fearful for their lives. Testifying recently before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State Colin Powell called the slaughter what it is _ genocide. He called upon the United Nations to quickly intervene. Why is the United Nations debating semantics while the death toll rises?

Sudan's Arab-led government has allowed the armed militias, called the Janjaweed, to terrorize black African rebel groups in the western Darfur region. Global pressure is building on Sudan to corral its proxy rapists and murderers, but the government is resisting, and as security worsens, those fleeing the violence face a host of new threats from a lack of food, water and medicines. International aid agencies said earlier this month that up to 300,000 people could die from disease and hunger in the coming months.

Charities have mobilized one of the largest relief efforts ever, and while the United States, the United Nations and the African Union all recognize the seriousness of the crisis, the world community has been slow to even agree on a plan to intervene. The relief group Save the Children estimates that of the 1.2-million in so-called safecamps, at least 500,000 are under the age of 5. Children are the most vulnerable victims in a war, and meeting their needs is entirely dependent on a massive influx of peacekeepers and aid.

"Time is the enemy of this relief effort," Save the Children's Charles MacCormack said last week. The world should heed his urgent appeal.