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U.N. Official Says Darfur Should Be Given Autonomy

September 25, 2004|From Associated Press

ABECHE, Chad — The United Nations high commissioner for refugees proposed autonomy for the troubled Darfur region of Sudan -- a solution the government has resisted but said Friday it was willing to discuss in an effort to end violence that has killed an estimated 50,000 people.

"There has to be some clear partition of power in Darfur," Commissioner Ruud Lubbers said in Chad, whose eastern territory borders Darfur.

He said he did not mean "the total giving away of Darfur" by Sudan's central government, but rather "a limited amount of autonomy within the framework of the territorial integrity" of Sudan, Africa's largest country.

Nothing less than radical change would stop the violence, Lubbers said.

"We have an enormous responsibility now not to accept that this can go on and on," he said at a border town serving as the U.N. base for camps holding most of the 200,000 Darfur refugees in Chad.

The U.S. State Department's representative for Sudan said it would take up to two years to disarm the Arab militias blamed for the violence and secure the region so displaced people could return home.

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