The United Nations Security Council has again called on the Sudanese government to halt atrocities against civilians in Sudan’s Darfur region. The council repeated its demand, first made on July 30th, that the Sudanese government “end the climate of impunity in Darfur by identifying and bringing to justice all those responsible. . .for the widespread human rights abuses.” Those responsible include Sudanese military forces and government-supported Arab militias, called the Janjaweed. The new U-N resolution also calls for an investigation to determine “whether or not acts of genocide have occurred.”
Based on the findings of a recent U.S. State Department study and other evidence, Secretary of State Colin Powell said that “genocide has occurred and may still be occurring in Darfur.”
More than fifty-thousand people have already died in Darfur, and more than one-million two-hundred-thousand have been driven from their homes. In addition to murdering African Sudanese and looting and destroying their villages, the government-supported Arab militias have systematically raped thousands of women. John Danforth, U.S. Ambassador to the U-N, says the crisis in Darfur “is the largest humanitarian disaster in the world today” and is “entirely man-made”:
“Unlike natural disasters such as hurricanes and droughts, the tragedy in Darfur was entirely avoidable. It was fabricated by a government as an overreaction to a rebellion, intent on revenge, intent on persecution, intent on breaking the spirit of an entire people."
The main rebel groups in Darfur are the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudanese Liberation Army/Movement. In recent months, they been engaged in talks with government representatives under the auspices of the African Union. The U-N Security Council has called on the parties to move quickly to sign and implement a humanitarian agreement and a security protocol. But in the meantime, says the U-N resolution, “all armed groups, including rebel forces,” must “cease all violence, cooperate with international humanitarian relief and monitoring efforts, and ensure that their members comply with international humanitarian law, and facilitate the safety and security of humanitarian staff.”
Ultimately, says U.S. Ambassador Danforth, “The government of Sudan has the responsibility to end the tragedy in Darfur. We expect it to do so.”