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Bush On Darfur

President George W. Bush says the United States will step up sanctions against Sudan if Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir continues to ignore pledges to end the violence in his country's Darfur region:

"President Bashir's record has been to promise cooperation while finding new ways to subvert and obstruct the U.N.'s efforts to bring peace to his country. The time for promises is over -- President Bashir must act."

Since 2005, the Sudanese government has unleashed its Janjaweed militia against villages as part of a campaign against rebels in Darfur. The toll, says President Bush, has been "staggering":

"More than two-hundred-thousand people have died from the conflict -- or from the malnutrition and disease that have spread in its wake. And more than two million people have been forced from their homes and villages into camps both inside and outside their country."

The United States has delivered more than two billion dollars in humanitarian aid to the region since 2005 and has tried to help Sudan's government and the rebel groups reach a political settlement. In November 2006, Sudan's government and rebel forces agreed to expand the seven-thousand-member African Union peacekeeping force into a U.N.-African Union mission.

Since then, however, rebel forces have splintered and the Sudanese government has undertaken a new offensive, using military aircraft painted to resemble those of humanitarian agencies and peacekeeping forces to move weapons into Darfur and bomb villages. Mr. Bashir’s government also has delayed the deployment of three-thousand U.N. peacekeepers.

President Bush says that millions of displaced people remain vulnerable to attack:

"The increased lawlessness and instability has made it difficult for aid workers to deliver relief to those who need it -- some organizations have been forced to evacuate their staff for safety reasons."

Once again, said President Bush, the consequences of the Sudanese government's actions "are being borne by defenseless men, women and children."