For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 8, 2006
Fact Sheet: Darfur Agreement: A Step toward Peace
In Focus: Africa
Last Friday, The Government Of Sudan And The Largest Darfur Rebel Group Signed An Agreement And Took A Step Toward Peace. We are still far from our ultimate goal of returning millions of displaced people to their homes so they can have a life without fear, but we can now see a way forward. The President is particularly grateful for the leadership of President Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo.
The President Has Called The Massive Violence An Act Of Genocide - No Other Word Captures The Extent Of This Tragedy. A 22-year civil war between north and south took more than 2 million lives before a peace agreement that the United States helped to broker was signed early last year. At about the same time, another conflict was raging to the west - in Sudan's vast Darfur region. Darfur rebel groups had attacked government outposts. To fight that rebellion, Sudan's regime armed and unleashed a horse-mounted militia called the Janjaweed, which targeted not only the rebels but the tribes thought to be supporting them. The Janjaweed murdered men and raped women and beat children to death and burned homes and farms and poisoned wells, stole land to graze their own herds, and destroyed hundreds of villages. About 200,000 people have died from conflict, famine, and disease, and more than 2 million were forced into camps. A ceasefire was declared in this conflict in April 2004, but it has been routinely violated by all sides.
With This Peace Agreement, Darfur Has A Chance To Begin Anew. Sudan's government has promised to disarm the Janjaweed by mid-October, and to punish all those who violate the ceasefire. The main rebel group has agreed to withdraw into specified areas. Its forces will eventually be disarmed as well, and some of its units will be integrated into the national army and police. The African Union will meet a week from today, and the President urges its members to help implement this agreement.
The President's Plan To Assist Darfur Has Two Critical Components:
First, America And Other Nations Must Act To Prevent A Humanitarian Emergency. America is the leading provider of humanitarian aid, and this year alone we account for more than 85 percent of the food distributed by the World Food Program in Sudan. The situation, however, remains dire.
Second, America And Other Nations Must Work Quickly To Increase Security On The Ground In Darfur.
While America Is Providing Aid To The Suffering People In Darfur, Al Qaeda Wants To Add To The Misery By Killing Those Who Want Only To Help. In a recent audiotape, Osama Bin Laden attacked American efforts in Sudan and urged his followers to kill international peacekeepers in Darfur. While the terrorists are attempting to exploit the misery of fellow Muslims and encourage more death, America and other responsible nations are fighting misery and helping a desperate region come back to life. The contrast could not be clearer.
# # #