The Sudanese government and rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement have signed an agreement to stop fighting and reach a final peace accord by the end of the year. The conflict that began in 1983 between northern Sudanese Arabs and southern African Sudanese has resulted in the death of more than one-million people. Another four-million people have either been displaced within the country or have fled to Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, or other countries. Unable to grow food or earn money, they have faced malnutrition, disease, and starvation, among other hardships. The latest United Nations Security Council resolution calls for the warring parties in Sudan to "cease all violence and attacks." The resolution also calls for an end of attacks in western Sudan's Darfur region.
In Darfur, tens of thousands of mostly African Sudanese have died of malnutrition in internally displaced persons camps. They were forced from their homes by Janjaweed Arab militias supported by the Sudanese government. Thousands more have been killed in ruthless attacks on their villages. And African Sudanese women have been the targets of a campaign of systematic rape. About two-hundred-thousand Sudanese have fled into neighboring Chad, where they depend for their survival on the goodwill of Chad's people and government and aid from other countries and international agencies.
John Danforth, the U.S. ambassador to the U-N, is serving as the current U-N Security Council president. He says it is up to Sudan's leaders to deliver peace after years of unfulfilled promises:
"It is up to you to prove the naysayers and skeptics wrong, and to move your country forward toward joining the family of nations.... The United Nations, and all the nations of the world, expect -- demand -- that you deliver on your word."
The parties in Sudan "are very, very close to peace, but we have been close before," says Mr. Danforth. "This dream of peace in Sudan hinges on the parties' meeting their commitment to sign a peace agreement by December 31st, 2004."