Despite the some 70,000 people who have been brutally murdered and the estimated two million more who have fled their homes, the United Nations declared in a report on Monday that no genocide has been committed in the African nation of Sudan, relieving the U.N. of any legal obligation to take action to stop the violent conflict.
In an African Union summit in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, Sudan Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said that “[the Sudan government] has a copy of the report and [the U.N.] didn’t say that there is genocide,” despite the U.S. Congress’ and former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s accusations that the Sudanese government has been directing genocidal militia attacks on civilians.
Despite earlier claims from the U.N. that the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Sudan’s western region of Dufar,” diplomats from U.N. headquarters in New York challenge the Sudanese government by criticizing their actions but refuse to categorize the two-year long conflict as genocide.
At the same Summit, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said that the UN should threaten to impose sanctions on Sudan because of the human rights violations that are occurring in Darfur. The African Union leaders who Annan addressed on Monday have deployed over 1,400 troops and monitors to the Darfur region and have still not been able to suppress the bloody fighting.
The same AU monitors reported the aerial bombing of a village in the western Sudanese state of North Darfur on the 26th of January which killed 100 civilians, many women and children. In a Q&A entitled “Sudan’s Darfur Crisis,” the BBC reports refugees from Darfur as saying “following air raids by government aircraft, the Janjaweed ride into villages on horses and camels, slaughtering men, raping women and stealing whatever they can find. Many women report being abducted by the Janjaweed and held as sex slaves for more than a week before being released.”
Although tension has existed in the Darfur region of the Sudan for years over grazing rights between mostly nomadic Arabs and farmers of the Massaleet and Zagawa ethnic groups, violent conflict began in early 2003 after rebel groups began attacking government targets.
In opposition to the rebel attacks, the Sudanese government admits to mobilizing militia groups but claims no association with the Janjaweed. The Janjaweed are armed Arab militiamen, responsible for attempting to “cleanse” large territories of black Africans.
So far there have been clear international cries for UN intervention but none have been answered. The UN has threatened to possibly impose sanctions on Sudan’s oil sector if the violence continues but this is being opposed strongly by China who argues that the Sudan should be allowed to find its own solution.
The Sudanese government has promised to disarm the Janjaweed and other rebel groups but have demonstrated