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The Wrong Message On Darfur

International peacekeepers working to protect displaced persons and refugees in the Darfur region of Sudan will continue operations after a United Nations Security Council vote.

The council also committed to expand the force, a joint mission by the U.N. and African Union that now comprises about 9,000 troops and police representing several member nations and hopefully will double in size.

"The United States supports UNAMID, backs UNAMID, wants to do everything possible to ensure that UNAMID is fully and effectively deployed as rapidly as possible so we can do what the Council has long sought to do, which is to help the people of Darfur," said Ambassador Alejandro Wolff, the U.S. deputy representative to the world body.

While backing extension of the UNAMID mandate, however, the U.S. chose not to take part in the formal vote approving it as a way of protesting opposition toward the immediate pursuit of war crimes indictments in the conflict. The resolution included language added by African members calling for suspending efforts to call Sudan's president before the International Criminal Court. The court's chief prosecutor requested an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir for his and his government's action in the five-year conflict in which at least 200,000 have died and more than 2 million have fled their homes.

Some African leaders and others say that pushing criminal action against Mr. Al-Bashir puts the peacekeeping force in possible jeopardy from Sudanese forces, and it threatens peace negotiations in the conflict.

The world cannot ignore the terrible crimes that have occurred in Darfur and the massive human suffering there. The resolution sends the wrong message that in seeking peace in Sudan those crimes can be overlooked.