News and Information

Genocide report expected on Sudan
January 25, 2005

Many refugees accuse the army of working with Arab militias
A senior United States senator has called for sanctions to be imposed on the Sudan government if it does not disarm Arab militias in Darfur.

Ed Royce told the BBC the Janjaweed militias had committed ethnic cleansing against Darfur's non-Arab groups.

The call comes as the United Nations is due to announce whether or not a genocide is being committed in Darfur against black African groups.

Some 70,000 people have been killed and more than 1.5m forced from their homes.

Lobby group Human Rights Watch is calling for the Sudan government to be prosecuted at the world court for failing to stop the violence in Darfur.

The Sudan government denies backing the notorious Arab Janjaweed militias and blames rebels for the conflict.

Unfreezing assets

As pressure mounts for action to be taken against Sudan's leaders over Darfur, Vice-President Osman Ali Taha is travelling to Belgium to witness the unblocking of assets worth $600m held in the European Union, reports the Sudan news agency, Suna.

What is genocide?
This follows the government's signing earlier this month of a peace deal with a different rebel group - the SPLM from the south of the country - after 21 years of war.

Mr Royce, chairman of the US House of Representatives International Relations subcommittee on Africa, has just led a group of lawmakers to visit some of the refugees from Darfur in Chad and on the border.

Those fleeing the conflict in Darfur have told of mass rape and systematic killings of black Africans by Arab militiamen working with the security forces.

"Regardless of whether there has been genocide, the scale and severity of the ongoing atrocities in Darfur demand an urgent international response," said Peter Takirambudde, Africa Director at Human Rights Watch.

"The International Criminal Court was created to address situations like Darfur," he said.

"It is clear that the Sudanese government is unwilling to hold perpetrators of atrocities to account."

The US has already said that a genocide is being conducted against Darfur's black African groups.

If the UN agrees, it would carry a legal obligation to take action.

Deal backed

The US has pushed for sanctions to be imposed against Sudan but other members of the UN Security Council have managed to remove any direct threat of sanctions from previous resolutions.

People celebrating southern Sudan's peace deal
Southerners are now hopeful that war is over

Human Rights Watch has accused China and Russia of acting to preserve their oil contracts and weapons sales respectively.

Meanwhile, members of the SPLM have met in the southern capital, Rumbek and unanimously ratified the peace deal.

Sudan's parliament is expected to meet on Tuesday to follow suit.

The war in the south left some 1.5m people dead.

The US was instrumental in pressing both sides to come to an agreement to end the fighting.

As that war started to end in 2003, the Darfur conflict began.

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