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8/28/04 - DARFUR’S PEOPLE LIVE IN FEAR - 2004-08-30


Despite promises of protection from the Sudanese government, African Sudanese civilians in Darfur still live in fear. United Nations officials say there is little or no evidence that Sudanese authorities have taken steps to rein in the Janjaweed Arab militias. Attacks by the government-supported militias have killed thousands of African Sudanese civilians in Darfur and contributed to the deaths of tens of thousands of others. More than one-million people have fled their homes, including more than two-hundred thousand now in camps across the border in Chad.

Stuart Holliday, U.S. deputy ambassador to the U-N, says that people cannot be expected to return to areas where they feel threatened:

“People are still dying, and they are still scared in Darfur. And I think the important thing is to address the protection and security issues that remain.”

The U.S. and other countries have worked with the U-N, the African Union, and non-governmental groups to rush large amounts of aid to the displaced Sudanese in Darfur and Chad. The U.S. has already delivered more than one-hundred ninety-two million dollars in aid, and plans to deliver over one-hundred million dollars through next year.

But “the humanitarian crisis is far from over,” says Manuel Aranda Da Silva, U-N humanitarian coordinator for Sudan. “Hundreds of thousands of families displaced by terrorizing militias are completely dependent on relief for survival,” he says. “Many are still empty-handed, and. . .we could see the amount of people needing help rise exponentially over the next weeks and months.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department continues to collect and analyze information from inside Darfur and the refugee camps in Chad. Adam Ereli, State Department deputy spokesman, stressed that the findings are still preliminary:

“Regardless of what the outcome of this information-gathering and decision-making is, there is nothing we would be doing now, differently, in terms of helping the people of Sudan.”

For the U.S., said Mr. Ereli, preventing further suffering in Darfur “is our first and foremost concern.”

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