Home | News    Wednesday 4 February 2009

US diplomats condemn Darfur air raids

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February 3, 2009 (WASHINGTON) – Ambassador Susan Rice, the US permanent representative to the United Nations, on Tuesday voiced criticism of Sudan government bombing attacks near Muhajriya, a town of 30,000 residents seized by rebel forces on January 15.

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.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice speaks to members of the media at the United Nations headquarters (Reuters)

Sudanese aircraft dropped 28 bombs Tuesday morning, said Rice in a press statement after attending a Security Council briefing on the matter. The UN has some 190 peacekeepers based in the town as part of a joint mission with the African Union. These forces were ordered Sunday to leave by government forces preparing to assault the rebel-held settlement.

In a consequent uptick in diplomatic activity, the US State Department on Monday called on the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) to withdraw from Muhajriya in order to de-escalate the situation. Rice appeared to speak positively of the rebels’ response, a proposal to withdraw from Muhajriya on the condition that peacekeepers remain in
the area, which would be turned into a demilitarized zone.

However, Sudan rejected the offer.

The US ambassador spoke harshly of the government’s rejection of the proposal, saying, "Instead the bombardment continues. The government of Sudan has prevented UNAMID personnel from moving into the area to investigate, impeding the freedom of movement of these personnel, which is a violation of the Status of Forces Agreement between UNAMID and the government of Sudan."

It is not clear whether JEM still intends to defend the prize town, as previously vowed; Rice said that the rebels had withdrawn some 50 to 60 kilometers (30 to 36 miles) from the town. A State Department official, who preferred not to be named, speaking Tuesday afternoon in Washington, reiterated that JEM should withdraw from Muhajriya.

Referring to recent air assaults on Muhajriya, the diplomat said, "It’s been unacceptable for I don’t know how long now—six years, five years—I don’t know what it’s going to take but that’s completely unacceptable."

While praising UNAMID for staying in Muhajriya, the official also said that the Sudanese government’s request for UNAMID to leave had been "ridiculous."

US policy on Sudan is currently under review by diplomats and military planners.

At present, the State Department no longer has a Special Envoy for Sudan or an appointee to serve as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. In the interim, Tim Shortley, Director of the Sudan Programs Group, traveled to Khartoum last night after attending the African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

The government-sponsored Sudanese Media Center reported that Shortley intends to propose a draft agreement between the leading rebel group, JEM, and a rival ex-rebel faction, SLA-Minnawi, requiring that the government-aligned faction cease security and military cooperation with Sudan. The report amounts to an accusation that Shortley intends to organize rebel factions against the government. Subsequently, the US embassy dismissed such news reports as utterly false.

UN experts estimate some 300,000 people have died and 2.5 million driven from their homes. Sudan blames the Western media for exaggerating the conflict and puts the death toll at 10,000.

(ST)

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  • 4 February 2009 09:17, by Angelo M

    Only God knows why He allowed Khartoum to torments its civilians for decades (South and now West of the country), but certainly, ICC influence is bringing some hope. God will also NOT let them go unpunished. They got to taste of it, remember Sadam Hussein did!

    repondre message

    • 4 February 2009 11:00, by wani mathias

      What evidence is needed by ICC on Darfur/Bashir case when 28 Bombs land on a town inhabited by 30,000 people? Let the bombs accelerate the issuance of the warrant of arrest. Where is the propotionality of the force used here in this scenario? At the back of their cerebralcortex using ground force would mean proportional loss of personnel on their part. God alone knows when the statusquo of Sudan will change. We keep our hope alive.

      repondre message

      • 5 February 2009 08:41, by william wol

        Dear US diplomat,
        I would like to assure you that terrorist bleives in seeing rather than hearing.Therefore, mouth condemnation shall ever never prevent bashir from bombing the civilians in Darfur at all.As you has heard whoever telling the truth about his crimes that he was been doing should face severely consquent like what is happening to Turabi.

        However, if you meant to assist the civilians in the sudan let US new administration plans very fast to send in the force before the issuance his arrest warrnt otherwise, thing will be worsen in surprise.

        One life is less value than thousands of lifes.

        William Wol

        repondre message

    • 6 February 2009 16:23, by robert woods

      ICC is just a tools of USA, never justice.

      repondre message

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