Saturday, June 20, 2009

Obama's Darfur policy lacks clarity, advocates say

By WILLIAM C. MANN

WASHINGTON (AP) — Human rights groups working to end the dying in Darfur fear for the survival of 2.5 million people huddled in refugee camps if the Obama administration doesn't put on record its plans to bring security to them.

The administration said Thursday it still considers the Darfur problem genocide. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley emphasized that to counter a comment by President Barack Obama's special envoy on Sudan, retired Air Force Gen. Scott Gration.

Gration said Wednesday from the same State Department podium that what is being seen in the vast Western Sudan region now are "the remnants of genocide" and "the consequences of genocide, the results of genocide."

Obama himself had spoken recently of "ongoing genocide" in Darfur, and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, a Cabinet-level official, repeated in a speech Monday that genocide is being waged.

Although Gration's comments caught leaders of Darfur advocacy groups by surprise, they are more worried about the lack of a clear-cut U.S. policy than a semantic mistake by the special envoy.

Alex Meixner, director of policy and government relations for the Save Darfur Coalition, said Obama considers the situation genocide, and "he's the decider."

Meixner said in an interview that he thinks the verbal contretemps probably were overblown.

"I don't think they are at odds where they want to get, but in terms of semantics, this is sort of a red herring," he said. Genocide or not, he said, "everybody in Darfur has been purposefully on the brink of death for years." Read more >>>>>>>>>>

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