Europe Joins U.S. in Demand For Action on Crisis in Sudan
By Paul Casciato
Sunday, July 25, 2004; Page A18
LONDON, July 24 -- European allies joined the United States on Saturday in urging Sudan to end a conflict in its western Darfur region that Congress has labeled genocidal.
Britain's top military commander, Gen. Mike Jackson, said his country could send 5,000 troops to intervene in Darfur. "If need be, we will be able to go to Sudan. I suspect we could put a brigade together very quickly indeed," he told the BBC.
British officials have said they hold the Sudanese government responsible for ending the conflict, in which an estimated 30,000 people have been killed.
Britain has also accused the United Nations of being slow to respond. Prime Minister Tony Blair said this week he had not ruled out military intervention. A spokesman for Blair's office said Saturday that Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is scheduled to visit Sudan next month.
More than 1 million African villagers have been forced from their homes by violence carried out by Arab militiamen called the Janjaweed, aid officials say. More than 2 million are in desperate need of aid, according to U.N. officials.
About 180,000 Darfur refugees have swollen camps across the border in eastern Chad to escape the Arab militia, which aid groups accuse of raping, killing, looting, burning villages, poisoning water supplies and destroying crops.
Television images from Chad show camps full of emaciated women and children living on meager rations and with little more than a few sticks for shelter after walking, sometimes for weeks, to camps short of basic supplies from water to medical equipment.
The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, told Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail in Brussels on Friday that the government must disarm the Janjaweed.
Solana "urged the government to arrest the leaders of the Janjaweed, as a first significant step towards the dismantling of these militias, which are held accountable for most of the human rights violations," Solana's spokeswoman said in a statement issued Saturday.
French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier will visit Darfur next week. He will also travel to Senegal, Chad and South Africa to show French support for African Union efforts to effect a cease-fire in the region.
Sudanese officials have warned Britain and the United States not to interfere in the country's internal affairs, saying it would reject any offer of military help to address what the United Nations says is the world's worst humanitarian disaster.
"The international concern over Darfur is actually a targeting of the Islamic state in Sudan," Sudanese President Omar Hassan Bashir said on Friday.
The House and Senate passed measures Thursday declaring that the Janjaweed attacks in Darfur constituted genocide and urged President Bush to seek a U.N. protection force.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company