ME and Ophelia

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Legally declaring genocide in Darfur will not help refugees

U.S. State Department report July 21 excerpt:

Secretary-General Annan's envoy Mr. Pronk said in New York Wednesday there has been "no progress what so ever" on security for the refugees.

The U.S. senior diplomat who spoke to reporters said it's hoped that Thursday's Powell-Annan meeting help focus public attention on Darfur and generate support for a Security Council resolution.

He acknowledged that "a few" members of the council were holding out against the draft, which would threaten an arms embargo and travel ban against the Janjaweed and their supporters within the Khartoum government within a month, if U.N. terms are not met.

The Bush administration has described actions of the Janjaweed as "ethnic cleansing." It is also examining whether the situation fits the definition of genocide, which could trigger far-reaching penalties against those responsible under a 1948 international convention.

But the senior diplomat said such a legal determination would be of no immediate help to hundreds of thousands of people in Darfur whose lives are in jeopardy, and the important thing now is to disarm the militias.
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Powell Expects to Get 'Clearer Picture' From Darfur Reports


QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, you said in an interview last week that you expected to be getting reporting back from the ground in Darfur this week. Do you have any timeline for when you may be prepared to make that report? And since you've come back from Sudan, have you been at all encouraged by events on the ground?

SECRETARY POWELL: I will start to get some reporting in, I hope, this evening. It won't be a complete picture, but I've had people from our human rights bureaus and from our intelligence bureaus out interviewing individuals in Darfur and in Chad as well, and those reports will start to come in now, which will give us a clearer picture of the nature of this conflict and what the Jingaweit and the other militias have been doing.

How soon we can make a judgment that would lead us to characterize this situation one way or another remains to be seen. I can't answer that until the reports come in.

With respect to what's happened over the last couple of weeks since I visited there, since Secretary General Annan visited there and a number of congressional delegations visited, has been a mixed picture. With respect to humanitarian aid, more aid is going in. It is getting more difficult to retail it out to the needed populations, the needed camps, but more aid is coming in. They have removed some of the restrictions and they have been approving visas and transit documents more rapidly. So the Sudanese Government, they have taken some steps, has taken some steps to make it easier for the aid to come in and be delivered and for humanitarian workers to do their work.

We are also building up rapidly the size of the AU Monitoring Group, the African Union Monitoring Group, and I talked to Nigerian President Obasanjo on Sunday to see what I could do to assist in providing African Union troops to protect the African Union Monitoring Group, and we're working on that. We're trying to get the political process back on track as well, and my ambassadors in the region have had conversations with rebel leaders to get them back to the table.

On Sunday, I also spoke to Vice President Taha of Sudan and I spoke to Foreign Minister Ismail of Sudan. And while I took note of some marginal improvement in the humanitarian side, I also pointed out to them as clearly as I could that I, the President and the international community remain complete dissatisfied with the security situation. Not enough is being done to break the hold of the Jingaweit. Rapes are still occurring. People do not feel safe leaving the camps to go out and forage for food. The situation remains very, very serious and, first and foremost, the security has to be dealt with.

We will continue to consult with our international partners. I'll be talking to Secretary General Annan again this afternoon and Jan Pronk, his representative in the Sudan, is back to brief our Ambassador Danforth today and the Security Council tomorrow, and I expect to be in close touch with Kofi Annan later in the week to determine what further action might be appropriate for the Security Council and the international community to take.

Thank you.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 7/22/2004
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