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Working Toward Peace In Darfur

The government of Sudan and representatives from two rebel groups in the western Darfur region agreed to resume peace talks on September 15th in Abuja, Nigeria. Members of the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudanese Liberation Movement have stated that they are committed to resolving the more than two-year-old conflict by the end of 2005. The United States believes that only through a political solution can a durable peace and reconciliation be achieved in Darfur.

In July, the Sudanese government and the rebels agreed to a declaration of principles. The declaration calls for the guarantee of traditional tribal ownership of land in Darfur and for increased autonomy. It also calls for an end to hostilities and the return of those displaced from their homes. Sean McCormack is the U.S. State Department spokesman:

"We urge the parties to abide by the principles which they have signed, and keep up this momentum."

Fighting broke out in Darfur in 2003. Complaining that the region had been marginalized by the central government, the rebels attacked government facilities. Arab Janjaweed militia, supported by the government, responded by launching attacks on civilians from multiple ethnic groups, including African Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa in Darfur.

Many thousands have died in Darfur from fighting, malnutrition, and disease. More than two-million are displaced and largely dependent upon the international community for life-sustaining assistance. The United Nations says the situation in Darfur is one of the world's biggest humanitarian crisis.

The U.S. has contributed nearly seven-hundred-and twenty-five million dollars in humanitarian aid, including food, shelter, health care and education for the refugees and displaced. The U.S. is also providing one-hundred-fifty million dollars to support the expansion of the African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur. State Department spokesman McCormack says, "The current conflict in Darfur can only be resolved through peaceful means."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.