On June 10th, African Union-sponsored peace talks between the Sudanese government and rebels fighting in the western Darfur region are expected to resume in Abuja, Nigeria.
Fighting broke out in Darfur in 2003. African rebels, complaining of discrimination by Arab Sudanese, attacked government facilities. Sudanese Arab Janjaweed militia supported by the Sudanese government responded by attacking members of Darfur's African Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa tribes. Since the fighting began, many thousands have died in Darfur from violence, malnutrition and disease.
The announcement of a resumption of peace talks came during a meeting of donor countries in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The donor countries committed almost three-hundred-million dollars in additional aid for the African Union's peacekeeping mission in Darfur, including fifty million dollars from the United States. The European Union and NATO will also provide assistance, including transportation and training for new members of the African Union force.
Sa'id Djinnit is the African Union's peace and security commissioner. He says the Addis Ababa meeting was an opportunity to bring "the partners together":
"We at the African Union believe that while the A.U. is assuming its share of responsibility, it is important to build a partnership, and that partnership has been quite forthcoming."
The African Union has two-thousand-five-hundred troops in Darfur but wants to expand its mission to over seven-thousand-seven-hundred soldiers. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says the United States supports "expanding the deployment of African Union personnel":
"We think that's a very important development for the people of Darfur for better monitoring and observing the status of things in Darfur and therefore something that can help stop a lot of the violence that's out there."
In Darfur, says State Department spokesman Boucher, "There is a coordinated international effort that's going on." The U.S., he says, is pleased to see that it has resulted "in a conference in Addis Ababa that can bring additional monitors to Darfur and additional peace to the people of the region."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.