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The Secretary of State on Sudan...
[Colin Powell] 8/11/04
Violence and atrocities on a wide scale continue to be committed
against the civilian population in Darfur, a vast region in western
Sudan. Tens of thousands of men, women and children already have
died and hundreds of thousands more remain at risk and in need.
Well before the humanitarian crisis made the front pages, the
U.S. began to mobilize the world community to address the unfolding
catastrophe in Darfur, even as we worked to advance the north-south
peace process to end the longstanding civil war between the government
of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement. President
Bush was the first world leader to call upon the government of
Sudan to stop the violence. We then helped to broker a cease-fire
agreement between the government and the armed opposition groups
in Darfur, and at our urging, the African Union assumed the task
of monitoring the cease-fire.
When I visited Sudan at the end of June I delivered a clear
message from President Bush to President Bashir that Sudan had
to take decisive steps to resolve the crisis in Darfur. Specifically,
the Sudanese government needed to stop the violence being perpetrated
by Arab Janjaweed militias, facilitate unrestricted humanitarian
access by international relief workers, cooperate with African
Union monitoring, and enter into political discussions with the
Darfur rebel groups.
In all, the government of Sudan was given a list of 14 specific
actions to take in order to resolve the crisis. At the same time,
we emphasized that the rebel groups also must respect the cease-fire
and engage in negotiations. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan
personally delivered a similar, clear message.
To date, the government of Sudan has removed many obstacles
to humanitarian access, cooperated with the African Union cease-fire
monitors, and agreed to participate in political talks. It has
not, however, taken decisive steps to end the violence.
Therefore, last week, the U.S. and six co-sponsors introduced
and won overwhelming support for a U.N. Security Council Resolution.
We, the United Nations, the Europeans, the African Union, Egypt,
the Arab League and many others are coordinating closely to get
the government of Sudan to do what it must do. U.N. Resolution
1556 calls for measures to be considered against Sudan, including
possible sanctions, by the end of August if Khartoum has not
taken the necessary steps on Darfur.
All of us hope that the Sudanese government will use the time
provided in the resolution to bring the Janjaweed militias under
control. In the meantime, the African Union, with millions of
dollars of support from the U.S., the U.K., the Netherlands and
the European Union, has deployed to Darfur more than 100 international
cease-fire monitors. In the coming days, the African Union will
deploy 300 troops to protect them. The international community
welcomes the request of the African Union Peace and Security
Council that the Africa Union commission chairman submit a plan
on how to enhance the African Union cease-fire monitoring mission,
including the possibility of transforming it into a peacekeeping
mission to protect civilians.
Security is critical. The lack of security is the greatest obstacle
to delivering essential aid to those who remain in their villages
in Darfur as well as to those in camps for the internally displaced.
Without any assurance of safety, the displaced will not return
home and we likely will see a rise in the death toll in the camps
from disease, despite the international community's valiant humanitarian
Resources also are essential. The U.S. has already contributed
$144.2 million for Darfur relief and others have been generous,
but the requirements are extensive and much more will be needed.
International pressure will continue to increase until Khartoum
moves decisively against the Janjaweed. While we and the international
community are not ruling out any options, only the government
of Sudan can end the violence in the short term. The Sudanese
government bears the responsibility to face up to the crisis,
end human-rights abuses and save the lives of its own citizens.
A U.S. team is on the ground in Chad interviewing Sudanese refugees
from Darfur in order to gather information that will help our
government make a determination as to whether the violence and
atrocities in Darfur constitute genocide under the International
Convention for the Prevention of Genocide. This is important
work, but regardless of the words used to describe what is happening
in Darfur, we are acting with the utmost sense of urgency.
We want to see a united, prosperous, democratic Sudan, and we
are ready to work with the government of Sudan. We look forward
to a comprehensive peace agreement between the north and south,
resolution of the Darfur crisis and normalization of our relations.
There is no alternative to peace on all fronts. Far too many
innocent lives have been lost already. CRO
Mr. Powell is Secretary of State.
This piece first appeared in the Wall Street Journal