Right now, they're still alive.
400,000 Nuba civilians have been trapped in the mountainous regions of South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan since June 2011, on the brink of a government-orchestrated famine. The Khartoum regime has intentionally cut them off from their fields by persistent and indiscriminant bombing and denied access to any international aid. But they're still alive.
All of that will change sometime in the next few weeks.
Any day now, the rains will start, making this already remote region entirely inaccessible. Any hopes of breaking through negotiations with Khartoum to win access to these civilians will be moot. They will starve and -- like their 500,000 Nuba brethren who were annihilated in this same way during Khartoum's second genocide in the 1990s -- they will die.
Let's be clear: This is Khartoum's fourth genocide since the Omar al-Bashir regime took power in 1989. Bashir -- who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on 10 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide -- has presided over the murder of close to three million innocent civilians, civilians he is obliged to protect.
In 2005, I traveled to Darfur along with a congressional delegation. The experience changed my life -- after seeing the crimes committed against innocent civilians there, it was impossible to return to my comfortable life and do nothing.
But even after years of activism -- and even with the fervent, increasingly urgent advocacy of the last few months as the siege against the Nuba people has escalated -- we have failed to protect these civilians. I fear that in the next few weeks, we're going to watch the slow death of an entire population, and that the international community will sit in silence.
This Sunday, May 20, I'm walking in Jewish World Watch's Los Angeles Walk to End Genocide. I'm walking and agreed to be the honorary walk chair because I refuse to stand idly by and watch as the Khartoum regime continues to slaughter its own people.
Our political leaders have calculated that the American people are not interested in foreign policy in this election year -- unless it's about disengagement from major issues around the globe. By walking, we're announcing to our leaders loudly and clearly: They are wrong. The American public prioritizes stopping genocide and mass atrocities, and leaders ignore those priorities at their own peril. We're telling our leaders that they have the strong support of the American public to take the bold action necessary to stop genocide and mass atrocities.
I hope you'll join us.
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