A plan has been approved to protect victims of atrocities committed in the Darfur region of Sudan. The agreement came at a high-level meeting held at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
In a written statement, Andrew Natsios, the U.S. special envoy to Sudan, said, "Representatives from the African Union, including Gabon, South Africa, Senegal, Rwanda, Nigeria and the Republic of the Congo, the Arab League, including Egypt and Libya, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, the European Union, and Sudan affirmed the major elements of United Nations Security Council resolution seventeen-oh-six. This includes the expansion of the peacekeeping force in Darfur to some seventeen-thousand soldiers and three-thousand police – mostly from African countries. Mr. Natsios says, "The United States welcomes the successful outcome of this historic meeting."
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the agreement "is certainly a real opportunity to resolve an extremely difficult problem."
Fighting broke out in Darfur in 2003 after rebels complained that the region 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. 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 seven-thousand member African Union force has been trying to provide security. In August, the U-N Security Council authorized the transformation of the African Union force into a larger U-N peacekeeping force.
President George W. 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."
Mr. Bush says, "The situation in Darfur is on our minds. 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.