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U-N Report On Darfur Violence

The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:

A United Nations commission says widespread atrocities committed in the Darfur region of Sudan amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The U.N. reports that some two-thousand villages were destroyed by Sudanese Arab Janjaweed militia supported by the Sudanese government.

The attacks were directed mostly at members of Darfur's black African Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa tribes. Thousands of civilians were killed and there are numerous reports of violence and rape against women. There are now more than one-million displaced persons in Darfur, with more than two-hundred-thousand others living as refugees in neighboring Chad.

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher commented on the U-N report:

"We reached a legal determination that Secretary {Colin] Powell expressed last September that genocide and all its aspects -- the crimes, the ethnic impact and the intent -- had, in fact, occurred at that point and that the government and the Jinjaweit were responsible. Nothing has happened to change those conclusions ."

The U-N report says "such international offenses as crimes against humanity or large-scale war crimes may be no less serious and heinous than genocide. This," says the report, "is exactly what happened in Darfur, where massive atrocities were perpetrated on a very large scale, and have so far gone unpunished."

The conflict in Darfur in western Sudan began in 2003, when rebels of the Sudanese Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement attacked government installations. The Sudanese government responded by supporting the Arab militias in their attacks on both rebels and civilians. State Department spokesman Boucher says the U.S. will continue to work with the U.N. and others "to stop the violence and the atrocities":

"We are continuing to support the efforts being made for a political solution, support for the efforts being made by Africans in countries like Nigeria to reach a political solution."

It is time to hold accountable those responsible for atrocities in Darfur. "It's not just a matter of what reports say," points out State Department spokesman Boucher. "Horrible things. . . .that have gone on in Darfur. . . .need to be stopped."