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8/6/04 - POWELL ON DARFUR - 2004-08-06

The United Nations Security Council voted thirteen to zero, with two abstentions, in favor of a resolution providing for measures which include sanctions against Sudan, if it fails to act against the Janjaweed militia in the Darfur region of the country.

The Sudanese government-backed Arab militia has killed thousands of people. Tens of thousands have died from hunger and disease. More than a million others have been forced from their homes by Janjaweed raids that include massacres, rape, and the destruction of hundreds of villages. Hundreds of thousands of displaced persons and refugees are now at risk of death by starvation or disease.

Security must be reestablished in Darfur so that wells can be dug and food and medicine brought in to ease the suffering. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says the situation in Darfur is very tragic:

“We should give the Sudanese government time to respond, but these people [in Darfur] don’t have that much time, before disease and famine take tens of thousands of lives. And so the international community has come together to put pressure on the Sudanese government to allow full access to the area for humanitarian workers and also for the Sudanese government to do everything in its power to stop the Janjaweed militia and to bring security and stability to the region, so that people can return to their homes.”

Mr. Powell says, the real issue is how to put pressure on the Sudanese government to do what needs to be done:

“We are expecting the Sudanese government to use its influence, which we know it has over the Janjaweed, to bring them under control. We don’t want to see the establishment of permanent [refugee] camps, and people cannot go back to their homes and villages, or even worse, they can’t even go outside the camps for fear of being murdered, raped, or slaughtered.”

“Pressure must be kept on the Sudanese government,” says Secretary of State Powell, “to make sure that access is allowed and that security is improving.”