[Marxism] Good People of America Visit Darfur and Call For More to be Done
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Mon Aug 30 06:03:11 MDT 2004
U.S. State Dept. Official Visits Darfur
By ED JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer
AL-FASHER, Sudan - A senior U.S. State Department official toured a Darfur
refugee camp on Monday, assessing conditions for thousands of displaced
people on the final day of a U.N. deadline for the Sudanese government to
end violence in the troubled western region.
Slideshow: Sudan's Darfur Conflict
Jesse Jackson Visits Darfur Refugees
Constance Berry Newman, assistant secretary of state for African affairs,
was briefed by aid agencies and United Nations officials before touring Abu
Shouk camp, home to some 43,000 villagers driven from their homes in 18
months of fighting between government troops and rebels.
Children clamored around her as she visited one of 200 classrooms in the
camp, where children sitting in the shade on mats learned about basic
sanitation and the importance of clean drinking water.
"Salam," she said to the children, using a traditional Arabic greeting, as
she entered the straw and tarpaulin classroom UNICEF built and runs. She
later watched as aid workers inoculated babies against measles.
Newman's visit comes on the final day of the U.N.'s 30-day deadline for
Sudan's government to rein in Arab militiamen, known as Janjaweed, blamed
for killing thousands of black African farmers and driving them from their
The United Nations, which sent three fact-finding teams last week to assess
conditions in Darfur, is scheduled to issue a report on Tuesday. The
Security Council will meet Sept. 2 and consider whether to follow through
with their threat of unspecified action against Khartoum.
The United States, which sent Secretary of State Colin Powell to Darfur in
July, has advocated sanctions against Sudan.
Newman refused to comment to waiting reporters when she touched down at
Al-Fasher airport in a U.N. World Food Program twin-engine plane.
She was met on the tarmac by a provincial official and a Sudanese military
officer, as well as a U.N. representative and a U.S. AID representative.
More than 30,000 people are thought to have been killed in the violence
since two rebel factions took up arms against the government in February
2003 escalating years of low-level conflict between African farmers and
Arab herders, competing for water and land.
The rebels, drawn from African tribes, rose up against the Arab dominated
government, claiming discrimination and political marginalization.
Human rights groups, the U.S. Congress and U.N. officials accuse the
government of trying to crush the rebellion by backing the Janjaweed
allegations Khartoum repeatedly denies.
Efforts to forge peace between rebels and the government at talks in Abuja,
Nigeria, have so far proved fruitless, with each side accusing the other of
violating an April 8 cease-fire.
Only 20 miles from Al-Fasher, the small mud and straw hut village of Um
Hashab lies in ruins and abandoned after fighting between government forces
and rebels. Villagers told The Associated Press they were attacked Thursday
by Sudanese troops who dropped bombs from helicopters.
The African Union, which has a team of 80 cease-fire observers, protected by
150 Rwandan troops, said it was investigating the claims. A contingent of
150 Nigerian soldiers was scheduled to arrive in Al-Fasher later Monday to
boost the AU presence.
Abu Shouk camp, on the outskirts of the provincial capital, has an air of
permanence. Residents have begun to build mud walls around their straw and
tarpaulin shelters, and simple fences from scrub and thorn tree branches,
replicating conditions in their villages. Some have planted vegetables and
corn in patches of dirt outside their huts.
A small market is thriving on the edge of the desert settlement and many of
the displaced try to make a living, sewing, making tools with simple
blacksmith furnaces, or cutting mud bricks from the ground still wet from
Many say they are too afraid to return home, fearing further attacks or
abuse by the Janjaweed.
"We are happy and living here securely but we still need more and we need
them to give us more peace," said Kalthoum Mohammed Haroun, waving to
Newman's small delegation as it passed through the camp in a convoy of white
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