U.N., Sudan reach deal to stop humanitarian crisis

Plan may avert sanctions from the Security Council

August 06, 2004|By BLOOMBERG NEWS SERVICE

UNITED NATIONS - United Nations and Sudanese government officials agreed on steps to end the humanitarian emergency involving the killing and displacement of Darfur villagers, a plan that may defuse the threat of Security Council sanctions, a U.N. spokeswoman said yesterday.

In the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail and Jan Pronk, the U.N.'s top envoy to Darfur, negotiated "detailed steps to be taken to disarm the Janjaweed militia, improve security in Darfur and address the humanitarian crisis," the U.N.'s Denise Cook told reporters in New York. The world body has described the Darfur emergency as its worst humanitarian challenge.

"The government of Sudan must stop the violence of the Janjaweed militias, and all parties must respect the cease-fire and allow the free movement of humanitarian workers and supplies," President Bush said yesterday as he signed into law a $416 billion defense spending measure that includes $95 million in aid for Darfur.

Cook said Sudan's Cabinet would be asked to ratify the agreement, and that Pronk was "hopeful" implementation within the 30-day deadline set by the Security Council in the resolution adopted on Friday would lead the 15-member panel to agree "there was substantial progress and no reason to consider further action."

The Security Council demanded that Sudan immediately disarm and prosecute members of the Arab Janjaweed militia that has uprooted and killed black villagers in the western region of Darfur, or face the possibility of sanctions. The measure calls for unimpeded access to relief workers aiming to help Darfur and for a secure environment for probes of atrocities.

As many as 1.2 million people have been driven from their homes and perhaps 100,000 people killed. The United States' top aid official said as many as 1 million people could die if conditions don't improve and food and medical aid isn't delivered.

Bush said yesterday that early action on Darfur was an example of efforts to confront threats to the United States that "can emerge from failing states half a world away."

The United States and the United Nations accuse Sudan of arming the Janjaweed.

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