On July 30th, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution giving the Sudanese government thirty days to rein in government-backed Arab Janjaweed militias who are wreaking havoc in Darfur, an area in western Sudan. The militias have killed at least thirty-thousand black Sudanese and the violence has displaced more than a million others. If Sudan fails to disarm the militias and protect its own citizens, the Security Council resolution holds out the possibility that the government will face economic and diplomatic sanctions.
U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says the Sudanese government will be pressed to act quickly:
“They have a responsibility to turn off what they originally turned on, and they have a responsibility to withdraw all forms of support for the militias, as has been reported in the past.”
That support has been extensive, says Mr. Boucher:
“The [Sudanese] government certainly has within its power the ability to take action to stop these militias, to arrest senior people, to stop air support, to stop government troop support, as well as to withdraw any forms of support and stop them from their activities, and certainly government forces would be required to do that.”
In preparation to conduct further monitoring of atrocities on the ground and to assist in providing humanitarian aid to the displaced people of Darfur, the African Union, a continent-wide organization, says it will send as many as two-thousand troops to Sudan to provide security. Many of the soldiers will come from Nigeria and Rwanda. The African Union already has a small cease-fire monitoring force on the ground in Sudan that is actively collecting information on Janjaweed atrocities and on other cease-fire matters.
As he has emphasized before, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says that he hopes the Sudanese government “will use the time provided in the [U-N] resolution to do everything it can to bring the Janjaweed [militia] under control.”