23 October 2005
Janjaweed Arab militias recently attacked Geneina, a town near Sudan's border with Chad. The New York Times reports that "in a scene that aid workers described as something out of a Hollywood western, the militiamen surrounded the police station. . . .roughed up the chief and freed several of their members from jail." The newspaper says that the fact that the Janjaweed "are now emboldened enough to turn their guns on the government is a sign of trouble."
Fighting broke out in Darfur in 2003 after rebels complained that the region had been marginalized by the central government. Rebels affiliated with the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army and the Justice and Equality Movement attacked Sudanese government facilities. Supported by the Sudanese government, the Janjaweed responded by launching attacks on civilians from Sudan's African Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa groups in Darfur.
In July, the Sudanese government and the rebels agreed on a declaration of principles. The document calls for the guarantee of tribal ownership of land in Darfur and for increased autonomy for the region. It also calls for an end to hostilities. But despite efforts by the United Nations, the African Union, and others, there recently was an upsurge of violence in Darfur. A tense and inherently unstable security situation remains in Darfur. However, there have been no reported attacks in the last week.
All sides have been responsible for ceasefire violations. And the United States’ focus continues to be on strengthening African Union efforts and promoting accountability in the United Nations Security Council. U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli says that the continued violence in Darfur is "unacceptable":
"There are obviously things the government of Sudan wants that they're not going to get if they continue to do this. Number two, there are additional measures that could be taken depending on the circumstances, depending on events on the ground. Number three, you have an ongoing situation of conflict in Darfur between rebels and militias that are supported by the government."
The conflict in Darfur, says State Department spokesman Ereli, "has gone on for too long."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.