Home | Comment & Analysis    Saturday 17 July 2004

The imperilled of Sudan


By Colin L. Powell, The Times of Malta

WASHINGTON, July 17, 2004 — The current conflict in western Sudan puts the lives of more than a million human beings in jeopardy. Marauding Jingaweit militias are destroying villages, raping and killing and aid to the area is being impeded. The situation must change quickly, before those who are imperilled are lost.

While we in the international community must intensify our efforts to help, the government of Sudan bears the greatest responsibility - to face up to this catastrophe and save the lives of its own citizens.

Before I departed Sudan, I gave the government of Sudan a list of actions that needed to be taken in order to turn around the situation in Darfur. Over the last several days since I visited Darfur, the government of Sudan has made some announcements with respect to getting the Jingaweit militias under control, allowing humanitarian aid to flow more freely, ending the problem of getting visas for aid workers and stopping support to those who are intent on violence in Darfur.

We are closely monitoring the government’s response to the actions we requested. While the government has taken some positive steps, violence is continuing and we have not yet seen a dramatic turn around of the situation.

The United States has drafted a UN Security Council resolution that is now being discussed with members of the Council, calling upon the government of Sudan to immediately fulfil all of the commitments it has made to end the violence and give access to aid workers and international monitors. The resolution urges the warring parties to conclude a political agreement without delay. It commits all states to target sanctions against the Jingaweit and those who aid and abet them, as well as others who may have responsibility for this tragic situation.

The United States will continue to work with our African friends and with the world community to help end conflicts like this one and to bring relief to those who are in such desperate need.

Sudan’s President Omar Hassan A. Al-Bashir has repeatedly pledged to work for peace and he did so again when we met. But President Bush, the United States Congress, Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the international community want more than promises - we want to see dramatic improvements on the ground right now.

The United States has been in the forefront of providing emergency humanitarian assistance to the suffering people of Darfur and will remain in the forefront. We have provided $139 million in this year alone with another $161 million identified for next year. But it is time for the entire international community to meet the pledges that they have made. We will also work with the international community to make sure that all of those nations who have made pledges of financial assistance meet those pledges.

The United States will continue to work with our African friends and with the world community to help end conflicts like this one and to bring relief to those who are in such desperate need. Conflict and chaos of the kind that we see in Sudan rob Africans of the future they want, the future they deserve. The goal of an Africa at peace is not an impossible one. It is one that is achievable if we work at it.

Through continuing programmes and bold new initiatives, President Bush and his administration are working in partnership with Africans to help them move toward greater democracy, greater opportunity, greater security and greater hope for a peaceful future for their children.

We will not rest. We will continue to apply pressure. Only actions, not words, can win the race against death in Darfur.

Mr Powell is Secretary of State of the US

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