U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appealed to world leaders to use their influence to stop the killing in Sudan's western Darfur region. Mr. Annan says he is not ready to send troops to Darfur.
Speaking on the eve of a three-week trip that will take him to the region, Secretary-General Annan said the Sudanese government has a sacred responsibility to protect its people against the kinds of crimes being committed in Darfur.
He called on world leaders to pressure the Khartoum government to curb Arab militias, known as Janjaweed, who are terrorizing black African villagers.
"I would say all governments with influence in Khartoum must engage the government of Sudan and insist that the government must protect its people," he said. "It must disarm the Janjaweed. It must create an environment that will allow the displaced to go home and it should engage with the rebel side very seriously in political settlement and in negotiations."
Mr. Annan admitted that he is not ready to, in his words, "send in the cavalry" to stop what he said is bordering on ethnic cleansing in Darfur. He noted that not many countries were prepared to do so, either.
He suggested the Security Council might consider sanctions against the Khartoum government.
But he likened the situation in Darfur to East Timor and suggested that Sudanese officials should permit the international community to protect its population if it is unable to do so.
"We have had other situations where the government concerned has failed to protect its people and the international community has gone in to help," he recalled. "East Timor is a case in point. When Indonesia couldn't do it, a force did go in to help them do it. I was on the phone almost night and day with President Habibie, saying, if you cannot do it, let the international community come in and help."
Two U.N. human rights reports last month concluded that Janjaweed militias closely allied to the Khartoum government were conducting large-scale human rights abuses against Darfurian villagers. An estimated one million people have fled their homes, 150,000 of them are refugees in nearby Chad.
While in Sudan next week, secretary-general Annan will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who will also be traveling to Darfur at the same time. Mr. Annan said he and Secretary Powell plan to collectively pressure the Khartoum government to "do what it has to do."