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May 15, 2006 | 7:00 a.m. ET

Violence after a peace deal in Darfur (Ann Curry, NBC News)

A peace deal is signed for Darfur , the scene of more than three years of what the U.S. calls Genocide, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths, and millions to flee in fear.

Why then, does no one seem to be shouting for joy?

Perhaps the best answer is what I heard a U.S. State Department official say about the tragedy of Darfur.  Explaining the ethnic cleansing, he said the Sudanese government, trying to stomp out a rebel movement, "let a monster out of its cage, and it might not be able to put it back."

The monster is the racist motivation of those blamed for the killing. Arab militias called Janjaweed, backed by the Sudanese government, as recently confirmed by the U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, have yelled racial epithets as they have slaughtered non-Arab black Africans in Darfur. 

Even after the peace deal was signed, their violence, including the shooting of children and the raping of women, has continued, according to a report this past Sunday in the New York Times.

All this makes me think of Gemina, a Darfurian woman, with a beautiful, wide open smile, who has fled the Janjaweed not once, but twice.

When I met her in the region last March, she told me  how much she had loved her husband,  how they had a good marriage with their three laughing girls. 

Then, pain narrowing her eyes, she described the last day she saw him.  The Janjaweed had attacked and set fire to the village.  Her husband ran back in, toward to huts to grab food for the family, and she never saw him again.

I didn't ask her if she had been raped, with her children near, but as rape is a common weapon used by the Janjaweed, I thought chances were good that she had. 

Still she wanted to go home.

"You want to go back?" I asked, a bit incredulously.  She nodded, explaining about how sweet life was before her village in Darfur was attacked, how her family had farmed the land for generations, how she wanted her children to be raised there as well.

Peace is what she wished for, smiling as she thought of it.  As she did so, she was living under a tree with nothing left but her children, wanting just a chance to exist.

If not a peace deal, what will it take to put the monster back in the cage?  What will it take to stop hatred this ugly?  When does a poor mother running with her children, finally get to stop?

April 30, 2006 | 9:55 p.m. ET

Saving Darfur: Idealism and Reality (Ann Curry, NBC News)

I was just a kid when I first heard about the Holocaust, and  I remember asking myself, "Are you the kind of human being who would had tried to save a Jew?  Would you have risked your life or your family's, as some people did?"

Now the world is facing a new case of what the U.S. calls genocide, the first of this century, and unlike in the Holocaust, we can't claim we didn't know. 

This past weekend, thousands marched on Washington in a grassroots movement to stop the violence in Darfur, Sudan, despite the fact that the media has failed to adequately report the ugliness of what is happening there. Arab African militias, supported by the Sudanese government, have been killing and raping black Africans for more than three years.  It's estimated 200,000 to 400,000 people have been killed, and more than 2 million have been made refugees.

I am still haunted by the faces of three sisters, who I met on Darfur's border with Chad. They told me they watched their parents killed, after hearing them called, "Black slaves.". The oldest girl was about 11 or 12.

Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elie Weisel told me last week, that Jews, having endured genocide, do not have the priviledge of being silent about Darfur.

He was one of the first American Jews to speak against the violence, planting the seeds of last weekend's march. Christian Evangelicals quickly added their outrage, and now, having the ear of President Bush, are a powerful ally in the effort.

College students brought their energy and idealism, and now, in recent days, the movie star George Clooney and country musicians Big and Rich, have added their enormously influential voices.

All this could not come at a more critial time.  The ethnic cleansing is increasing dramatically, with humanitarian groups reporting they have had to pull back, leaving some 300,000 refugees without care, because of threats to their safety.

And on my trip to the region in March, I found concrete evidence the violence is bleeding into neighboring Chad.

But listen as I did last week to the words of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, and you will know this moral challenge needs more than a march and a movie star.


ANN CURRY: Darfur can't wait.

KOFI ANNAN: It can't wait.  And, in fact, one of things we discussed in the Security Council is immediate measures to strengthen the African Union force that is on the ground...strengthen their capacity and help them do more..than they're able to do at the moment...give them the logistical support that they need.

Video: Kofi Annan on Darfur ANN CURRY: Sudanese helicopters have been attacking villages in Darfur this week.. can you confirm?

KOFI ANNAN: I'm not sure I can confirm.  But, it has happened before.  It has happened before when the villages have been hit by air.  And, I recall, when I went there, and spoke to them, they indicated how fearful they've become of airplanes.  But they cower when they hear that sound.  You've been to Darfur, and you see how open it is.  So, anybody in the air has easy targets...people there have nowhere to hide.

ANN CURRY: People are asking, "Why has the United Nations, why has the world not been able to stop this ethnic cleansing?"

KOFI ANNAN: That is a good question.  You probably remember that when the heads of states met here in September, they made a solemn pledge to protect, in situations where a government fails.. where a government is either unable or unwilling..or may, itself, be the perpetrator, the international community, acting through the Security Council, has an obligation to intervene... and if need be, through the use of force.  That debate and that discussion is going on in the Security Council. 

ANN CURRY: But..that is not of enough of an answer.

KOFI ANNAN: It may not be enough of an answer but you have a   Sudanese government.. which has been resistant to the UN force coming in.  And, of course, you also need to have the force.  UN doesn't have a standard army.  We borrow the troops from governments.

ANN CURRY: What is your message to the international community to the world leaders at this moment in history about their responsibility at this time?

KOFI ANNAN: We need to bring all pressure and all our influence to bear to be able to assist the people in Darfur.
  
ANN CURRY: What is the soonest UN peace keepers could be on the ground in Darfur?

KOFI ANNAN: We will need about four to five months.  If it were not to be an UN force and a group of countries were to come together and form a multi-national force and commit their own troops, that could move very quickly.. much faster than..the UN force.

ANN CURRY: What are the chances of that?

KOFI ANNAN: For the moment, I don't see it.  I, honestly.. I don't see it.  It may be disappointing to you, to me, and to those on the ground, but I don't see it.

ANN CURRY: Is going in without Sudanese government approval off the table for the United Nations?

KOFI ANNAN: For the United Nations, yes.  For the simple reason that.. that I may not get the troops.

ANN CURRY: It sounds like you're up against an overwhelming set of odds.

KOFI ANNAN: It's.. it's extremely difficult.  It's an uphill.. uphill battle.  But, we need to persevere.  We need to keep fighting.

In the last century, we learned the lesson of "never again," but still the world was slow to act in Rwanda, Bosnia, and Kosovo. 

And unless more care about Darfur, the world will fail again.

Now in a new century, there is a new chance to prove we are evolving into better human beings, who stand against evil, even when it is difficult.

So I am wondering, "What kind of human beings are we?"

April 29, 2006 | 6:42 p.m. ET

Angelina Jolie, fame with purpose (Ann Curry, Dateline and Today show anchor)

Captivating. That's the word that best describes Angelina Jolie, or Angie as she is called by those who know her.  Up close she is even more beautiful, but not just because of the lines of her face.

Looking at her, my thoughts turned to what she was when I first met her... sad and dark, wanting to laugh more.  People ridiculed her, gossiping about Billy Bob, her tatoos and a kiss she gave her brother. People would ask me how I could interview such a woman.

Feeling that sting, it would have been so easy for her to exploit her humanitarian work early.  But when I asked to follow her on her missions, she told me she wasn't ready, she didn't know enough.  She knows enough now.  And still, she has not confessed to all the good works she has done.

How common is it to find someone who embraces the idea that any true gift is given anonymously?  Angie's like that, not wanting to publicize her efforts, unless some greater good might come of it. 

Now people stop me to say how much they admire her, how she inspires them.

I have concluded that Angie represents the transformation that is possible in all of us, when we step outside our own suffering, and open ourselves to the suffering of others.

Look at how useful she has made made her life, focusing on helping the must vulnerable among us.  That, I think, is the most beautiful thing about her.

Ann Curry's interview with Angelina Jolie, with all-new material, airs Dateline Sunday 7 p.m.

Click here to see a slideshow of images of that interview in Namibia

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