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9/14/04 - GENOCIDE IN DARFUR - 2004-09-13

Genocide has occurred and may still be occurring in Sudan’s western region of Darfur. Those who bear responsibility, says U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, are the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed Arab militias that it has armed and supported. Attacks by the government-supported militias have killed thousands of civilians and contributed to the deaths of tens of thousands of others. More than one-million people have fled their homes.

Mr. Powell announced the finding of genocide after a U.S. investigation that included interviews with more than one-thousand refugees in Chad who fled the Darfur violence. The interviews revealed “a consistent and widespread pattern of atrocities,” including killings, rapes, and burning of villages, committed by Janjaweed and Sudanese government forces against non-Arab villagers. About three-fourths of those interviewed said that Sudanese military forces were involved in the attacks. The Sudanese government and its military forces also blocked food, water, medicine, and other humanitarian aid from reaching the people of Darfur, leading to further suffering and death. Access for humanitarian workers has lately improved, largely as a result of international pressure. But the precarious security situation and other problems make it difficult to reach many of those in need.

The U.S. is calling on the United Nations to conduct a full investigation into the reported atrocities in Sudan. The U.S. has introduced a resolution at the U-N Security Council that includes the threat of sanctions on Sudan’s oil-exporting industry if security is not restored.

Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to rush aid to the suffering people of Darfur. The U.S. has already provided more than two-hundred million dollars’ worth of aid to displaced people in Darfur as well as to those who have fled to neighboring Chad.

Secretary of State Powell says it is time for other countries “to increase their assistance”:

“These people are in desperate need and we must help them. Call it civil war, call it ethnic-cleansing, call it genocide, call it none-of-the-above. The reality is the same.”

People in Darfur, says Mr. Powell, “desperately need the help of the international community.”