EU warns Sudan to end Darfur bloodshed
26 July 2004 , AMSTERDAM — The European Union refused to rule out sanctions against Sudan if the situation in the crisis-torn Darfur region has not improved in three months, threatening it will demand further action to end the violence, Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot said on Monday.
26 July 2004
AMSTERDAM — The European Union refused to rule out sanctions against Sudan if the situation in the crisis-torn Darfur region has not improved in three months, threatening it will demand further action to end the violence, Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot said on Monday.
Bot refused to give details on the types of sanctions the EU would urge the United Nations to take, but said he was prepared to personally visit Darfur in coming months to investigate whether the situation is improving.
EU ministers met in Brussels on Monday. Bot — who played a leading role as part of the Netherlands' EU presidency which began in July — had said prior to the meeting that it was too early for UN sanctions to be imposed on Sudan, despite the continuing ethnic violence in Darfur.
Up to 50,000 people have been killed and about a million have fled their homes in the face of ethnic and religious violence in Darfur. Pro-government Arab militias — Janjaweed — are accused of ethnic cleansing, and the UN says food, water and medicines are running low in refugee camps, the BBC reported.
The Khartoum government promised early July to disarm the militias, denying that it was backing the violence, but the US and many observers on the ground say little progress has been made.
The UN has given Sudan three months to end the violence and allow access to aid workers and Bot said the EU wanted to keep the pressure on the Sudanese government.
"But we cannot expect now that a situation of total chaos that has lasted for months can improve within several days," he said.
UN Secretary-General will discuss the situation in Darfur with various African leaders on Thursday and the UN Security Council is debating a US-sponsored resolution imposing sanctions on the militias and their backers.
Meanwhile, Bot had previously met in The Hague on Saturday with his Sudanese counterpart Moustapha Osmane Ismail and acknowledged that the situation had improved in Darfur, but claimed it was still unsatisfactory.
The Christian Democrat CDA minister said his discussion with Ismail strengthened his confidence in the Sudanese government's efforts to end the crisis in the Darfur region — which the UN has described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis at present. But he added the country was being judged on definite results.
With the Netherlands currently holding the rotating EU Presidency, Bot had urged European colleagues on Monday that a strong warning should be issued to Sudan, Dutch news agency ANP reported.
And the draft statement by 25 EU foreign ministers urged the UN to take "further steps" if Sudan does not rein in the Arab militias blamed for atrocities.
But Ismail dismissed Bot's tough talk over the weekend, saying his country had made agreements with the UN three weeks ago about humanitarian assistance, human rights and security.
A rebel group in Darfur has demanded a rapid deployment of international peacekeeping troops, but it is not yet clear if the international community will provide military forces.
The secretary general of Sudan's ruling National Congress party, Ibrahim Ahmed Omar, warned on Sunday his party would use force against any outside military intervention. Sudan has also warned the US against becoming embroiled in another "Iraq-style" crisis.
But as concerns mount, the US Congress has claimed genocide is being committed in Darfur, calling on President George Bush to lead intervention efforts. But the sending of troops has not yet been discussed, Radio Netherlands reported.
Meanwhile, Ismail rejected the genocide claims and pointed out that observers from the African Union had passed a resolution stating that genocide was not being carried out.
But the UN claims up to 50,000 might have been killed in the Darfur region and has warned that serious human rights violations are being committed.
In other news, Dutch Overseas Development Minister Agnes van Ardenne said it is not yet necessary to increase humanitarian aid funding in Darfur, but urged Ismail to give aid workers better access to the crisis region.
She also urged Sudan to arrest the leaders of the militias responsible for the violence and despite the fact that access for aid workers has improved of late, greater liberties were necessary to get aid work actually working on the ground.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news