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U.N. Sees Meager Progress in Darfur

A report says Sudan has not done enough to stop the militias or help refugees and calls for a larger monitoring force.

September 02, 2004|Maggie Farley | Times Staff Writer

UNITED NATIONS — A U.N. report Wednesday said that Sudan had failed to stop attacks on civilians or disarm militias in the Darfur region, and that a large international monitoring force was necessary to provide the security the government had not.

Despite the failures, a divided Security Council is unlikely to impose sanctions, as threatened in a July 30 resolution that gave Khartoum 30 days to end the violence. Instead, diplomats say, the council probably will give Sudan more time to complete specific tasks and push it to accept an expanded force of as many as 3,000 African troops. The threat of sanctions will remain if Sudan does not cooperate.

"The disaster of Darfur continues," U.S. Ambassador John C. Danforth said Wednesday evening. "People continue to be abused, the security problem has not been solved, the number of displaced people has increased. The information that we have is that the government has been directly involved in military action against civilian villages, so the situation has not been fixed."

The Security Council will hear details today from the U.N. envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk, about what the government has -- and has not -- done to solve what the U.N. calls "the world's worst humanitarian crisis."

Sudanese leaders pledged July 4 to rein in and prosecute pro-government militias, known as janjaweed, which have terrorized the western Darfur region. The government also committed to providing security for the more than 1 million Sudanese who have fled their homes, and to helping them return without force. The U.N. estimates that more than 30,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

The report, drawn from joint assessments by the U.N. and Sudan and presented in the name of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, acknowledged that not all commitments could be implemented within 30 days across Darfur, a region the size of Texas. But it noted that few militias had been disarmed and they continued to attack civilians with impunity.

Annan's report noted some progress -- the government had lifted blocks on aid groups and deployed more police to improve security in refugee camps -- which pleased Security Council members opposed to sanctions on Sudan. "Sanctions would send the whole region into chaos and undermine the African Union's efforts," said Arab League representative Yahya Mahmassani.

But there were concerns that Sudan was doing just enough to avoid sanctions and was not serious about addressing the crisis, especially prosecuting the leaders of militias accused of doing the government's bidding.

The government denies backing the armed groups.

Samantha Power, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her book looking at why the world stood by during the Rwandan genocide, recently visited Sudan. In a New Yorker article, she documented how Khartoum had recycled old prisoners as newly arrested janjaweed and "rehatted" militiamen as policemen to guard the same population they had targeted weeks before.

To ensure that Khartoum fulfills its commitments, Annan urged that Sudan accept as many as 3,000 international monitors and soldiers. The African Union has sent 305 Rwandan and Nigerian troops to protect more than 100 cease-fire monitors in the country, but Khartoum has resisted any increase.

The U.S. is considering introducing a resolution to mandate more African Union monitors. Danforth, who is also the former U.S. special envoy to Sudan, has said he is familiar with Khartoum's propensity to give only "half a loaf" when it can.

"The issue is getting a substantial number of people in there and getting them there as quickly as possible," he said Wednesday. "Monitoring is essential and that's why an outside presence is essential in Darfur."

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