United Nations officials say Sudan has not done enough to control Arab militias accused of crimes against African villagers in the Darfur region. The Security Council is considering action to protect Darfur residents, though punitive measures against Sudan are unlikely.
Assistant Secretary General for Political Affiars Tuliameni Kalomoh told a closed Security Council meeting Tuesday that the people of Darfur still live in fear, despite the Khartoum government's promises to protect them.
Security Council ambassadors, briefing reports after the meeting, said Mr. Kalomoh complained that there was no evidence that Sudanese authorities had taken steps to rein in the pro-government Janjaweed militia.
U.S. ambassador Stuart Holliday said the matter of controlling the Janjaweed was the area of greatest concern to those interested in an end to the violence in Darfur, which has left tens of thousands of villagers dead and forced more than a million others from their homes.
"People are still dying and are still scared in Darfur, and I think the important thing is to address the protection and security issues that remain," he said. "What the international community can do for the people of Darfur is to address their concerns. They are worried about going back to their camps."
Council diplomats remain divided, however, about what to do about Darfur. The Council has given Sudan until August 30 to show progress in protecting civilians or face unspecified sanctions.
Pakistani Ambassador Munir Akram told reporters after the meeting he is skeptical about the value of sanctions. He said any attempt to quell violence in the vast Darfur region will take more than a few weeks.
"I think it's a mixed bag," he said. "At the moment, it's a question of some Janjaweed have been identified, but it was recognized that the disarmament of the Janjaweed would take a long time, not even 30 days, it would take a much longer time."
The Security Council did issue a statement applauding the work of the African Union, and of Nigerian President Olasegun Obasanjo in taking a leading role on the Darfur issue. But the statement gave few details.
British and U.S. diplomats have privately expressed impatience with the Security Council's go-slow approach on Darfur. A U.S. official said outside the Security Council meeting Tuesday that Washington is considering unilateral action on Sudan if the Council fails to act quickly.