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Washington Demands Action by Sudan to Alleviate Darfur Crisis - 2004-07-27


U.S. officials Tuesday stepped up their calls for quick Sudanese action to relieve the humanitarian disaster in the vast western province of Darfur where pro-government militias continue to terrorize local people.

Assistant Secretary of State Kim Holmes says Washington is continuing to circulate at the United Nations a draft Security Council resolution on Sudan. The measure, he says, threatens Khartoum with international sanctions unless security is restored in Darfur.

"It broadens and strengthens the arms embargo to cover the [pro-government] Janjaweed [militia] and the rebels in Darfur," he said. "It calls on rebel groups to end the violence immediately and to respect the April 8 ceasefire. It demands that Sudan arrest and prosecute the Janjaweed. It states specifically that if Khartoum doesn't comply with the demands the council will consider more stringent action such as imposing sanctions on the government of Sudan."

Mr. Holmes says a Security Council vote on the measure could come this week.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Charles Snyder says the Janjaweed are guilty of human rights violations on a massive scale. He calls attention to the report of African Union cease fire monitors on the ground that the violence is continuing and that adequate food aid is not reaching the hungry.

"In most cases they [the monitors] found that the Janjaweed are still able to act and the Janjaweed are responsible for atrocities of varying kinds, forcing more people off their land, raping women, and killing people," he said. "Some reports lead us to believe there are already ten thousand people dead as a result of what has gone on. As you know AID [Agency for International Development] has said if we don't reverse the situation there is a worse case of 350,000 casualties actually staring us in the face. And to top it all off it has begun to rain."

Mr. Snyder said the onset of rains has turned the tracks used by aid vehicles in Darfur into muddy wallows. Both officials dismissed assertions from Khartoum that the international community is seeking to destabilize the Sudanese government. The problem, says Mr. Snyder, is the absence of security in Darfur. Khartoum, he says, has failed to acknowledge the scale of the disaster. There is no time for further delay, says Mr. Snyder, as action is required within days.

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