Andrew Natsios, the U.S. special envoy to Sudan, describes the condition of the people of Darfur as grim. President George W. Bush says that the United States is going to work with its friends and allies "to come up with a single plan on how to address the issue and save lives":
"One element of the plan is something that I strongly supported all along, and that there needs to be a credible and effective international force to go into Darfur to save lives, to make it clear that the international community respects human life, and the international community will work in concert to save lives."
Fighting broke out in Darfur in 2003 after rebels complained that this western region of Sudan had been marginalized by the central government. Rebels attacked government facilities. In response, Sudan's government armed a militia called the Janjaweed that attacked not only rebels but also civilians. The Janjaweed murdered men, raped women, and beat children to death. They also burned homes and farms, poisoned wells, and stole land to graze their own animals. More than two-hundred-thousand people in Darfur have died from fighting, famine, and disease. Some two million now live in refugee camps in Darfur or in neighboring Chad. A ceasefire was agreed to in April 2004, but it has been violated by both sides.
A seven-thousand member African Union force has been trying to provide security in Darfur. In August, the U-N Security Council authorized the transformation of the African Union force into a U-N peacekeeping force of some twenty-thousand soldiers and police. But the Sudanese government refuses to allow the U-N peacekeepers into Darfur.
President Bush says the U.S. and others feel they must do something about the suffering in Darfur:
"The government of Sudan must understand that we're. . . .earnest and serious about their necessity to step up and work with the international community."
"The situation in Darfur is on our minds," says Mr. Bush. "The people who have suffered," he says, "need to know that the United States will work with others to help solve the problem."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.