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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Ambassador Jendayi Frazer
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
April 28, 2006

Ambassador Jendayi Frazer

Good afternoon. In the lead-up to this Sunday's Save Darfur rally here in the nation's capital, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak with you this afternoon about Sudan and the situation in the country's Darfur region.

Today, President Bush met with organizers of the Save Darfur rally and faith-based leaders to bring world attention toward ending the ongoing violence and provide assistance to the suffering people of Darfur. The President affirmed this administration's commitment to promote human dignity and build an international coalition to hold the government of Sudan accountable to a peaceful resolution.

On the second day of his presidency, President Bush instructed his then-National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, to work toward a political solution to the 22-year North-South war in Sudan. We ultimately worked out a peace deal and were able to help stand-up the current Sudanese Government of National Unity. President Bush continues to lead to end the violence in Darfur.

We are working in Abuja to achieve a political solution, supporting the African Union's (AU) peacekeepers, which have contributed to substantially reducing large-scale organized violence, have provided the AU with logistical and financial support, including engaging NATO in supporting the AU's forces; and are pushing for a transition of the AU forces to a United Nations peacekeeping operation. We clearly take Darfur seriously.

Now, I look forward to answering your questions.

Mark, from Washington, DC writes:
What can you and President Bush do in May to dramatically improve civilian protection efforts in Darfur, Sudan? Why did South Africa reneg on 800 civilian police?Thank you, Mark

Ambassador Jendayi Frazer
Mark, thank you for your question. The United States is doing quite a bit to improve civilian protection efforts in Darfur. We are currently working on transitioning the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) to a UN peacekeeping operation, which will have greater capacity for operations overall.

The African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) has been on the ground in Darfur since July 2004 operating as a peacekeeping/observing force and has done an exceptional job of bringing peace to Sudan where deployed. AMIS is African Union’s (AU) first military operation. Where AU troops were present, violence between the parties greatly subsided.

The AU asked for and received technical assistance from NATO, such as logistics assistance and troop airlift, which was a great help to the overall operation. As successful as the AU force has been, it has reached the limits of its capability. With this in mind, we turned to the United Nations to employ a robust peacekeeping force and we are pursuing that transition now.

South Africa is currently contributing troops and we will continue to work with them, and other nations, to contribute more in the future.

Ellyn, from New Jersey writes:
What is the status of NATO entry into the Sudan in the event a UN peacekeeping is denied entry?

Ambassador Jendayi Frazer
Ellyn, your question is a good one. NATO and a UN peacekeeping operation are not mutually exclusive. In fact, NATO is already involved in Darfur through the provision of logistical assistance and other areas. As Secretary Rice said yesterday, the time has come for NATO to do more and we will be working closely with them to figure out where assistance is best placed. Additionally, we continue to work towards the transition from an African Union peacekeeping force (AMIS) in Darfur to a UN peacekeeping force and are working with our colleagues at the United Nations and the African Union, as well as the Sudanese Government, to make that happen.

Keri, from NJ writes:
I very seldom watch the news and therefore was shocked and heartwrentched over the images I saw last night of Sudan. It's only by God's grace that I was born in this country and that me and my family are not there. Please tell me what my church can do to help.

Ambassador Jendayi Frazer
Keri, I am very glad that you asked this question. Raising awareness in your community is an important part of the solution. In fact, we need the world community to become more aware and take action to stop the violence in Sudan. Right now, President Bush is reaching out to world leaders to encourage their support for a United Nations peacekeeping operation in Darfur. It is important for Americans also to reach out to citizens in other countries to urge their governments to support this effort and to call on the Government of Sudan to take seriously its obligation to work with other nations to protect innocent Sudanese.

Kouri, from Carbondale, IL writes:
Evidence in Darfur suggests that hundreds of thousands have died as a result of circumstances consistant with genocide, yet the international community has failed to act. Years from now, will we look back on Darfur with the same regret we look back with regarding Rwanda?"

Ambassador Jendayi Frazer
Kouri, you are right to be concerned but I am glad to tell you that the United States has led the international community in resolving the crisis in Darfur in all areas from the very beginning, including the declaration of genocide, the provision of humanitarian assistance, reaching a political solution, funding the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) peacekeeping operation, and using multilateral diplomatic efforts. Not to mention, those in the highest levels of the U.S. Government are personally engaged, including the President, Secretary Rice, National Security Advisor Steve Hadley, Deputy Secretary of State Zoellick, and other U.S. officials.

The United States was the first and only country to declare the situation in Darfur genocide. In September 2004, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell stated before Congress that genocide was and might still be occurring in Darfur. These words galvanized the international community, under U.S. leadership at the UN, to establish a commission of inquiry (COI) which was sent to investigate. The COI later declared that ‘crimes no less heinous than’ genocide had occurred and the international community was then squarely focused on the crisis in Darfur.

The U.S. Government spent $1.3 billion in FY 2005 funds on Sudan – the largest of any international donor. Also, we are actively engaged with all of the parties at the Darfur Peace Talks in Abuja, Nigeria; we are hopeful we will soon reach the political agreement necessary to stop the violence and give a voice to the marginalized parties in Darfur. In addition, we have provided approximately $220 million to AMIS since its inception in July 2004 and are working with the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) on transitioning from an AU force to a UN peacekeeping operation. Finally, we have sponsored, adopted, or allowed adoption of a series of resolutions within the UN Security Council aimed at peacekeeping; targeted sanctions against individuals responsible for committing violence or impeding the peace process in Darfur; and ending the climate of impunity at work in Darfur through referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The USG remains committed and actively engaged on the situation in Darfur on a daily basis and to an exceptionally deep level. We do not intend to abandon the citizens of Darfur or allow their plight to go unnoticed.

Morris, from Brooklyn, NY writes:
Hi, I'm very concerned about the situation in Sudan. The genocide does not appear to be ending. What is the United States Government doing to be bring peace and stability to Darfur and to the region.

Ambassador Jendayi Frazer
Morris, thank you for your question. I firmly believe that a peace agreement is necessary for a long-term solution to the crisis in Darfur. To that end, we are actively engaged with all of the parties at the Darfur Peace Talks in Abuja, Nigeria; we are hopeful we will soon reach the political agreement necessary to stop the violence and give a voice in government to the marginalized parties in Darfur.

It is also important to strengthen the African Union forces in Darfur and to insist that the government of Sudan and the rebels respect the cease-fire agreement.

Michael, from Powell, TN writes:
What are the reasons why Northern Sudan Muslims are not being peaceful with the Southern non-Muslims?

Ambassador Jendayi Frazer
Michael, you have highlighted something important in this situation. The United States successfully assisted in reaching the end of the 22-year civil war between the largely Muslim North and Christian South in Sudan on January 9, 2005 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

The CPA established the Government of National Unity, comprised of both sides of the conflict, to run the country. Since that time, the parties have begun working together to rebuild their country after a devastating war that killed millions. This is a long and difficult process, but we are continuing to move forward.

Ryan, from Fredericksburg, VA writes:
With many in the world community supporting a regional force such as the African Union (AU) over an international force, how effective do you see the AU being in bringing peace to the region? I know that the Sudan will be chair of the AU either this year or next. I would appreciate your thoughts. Thank you for your time.

Ambassador Jendayi Frazer
Ryan, thanks for this question, clearly you are familiar with the situation. As you know, at the African Union Summit in January, the AU members blocked Sudan from becoming chairman because of the ongoing violence in Darfur. The AU Peace and Security Council at its March 2006 meeting, also decided to support a UN operation in Darfur. The conflict in Darfur is complex and the AU will need assistance, including it's recognition of the need to transition to a UN international peacekeeping operation.

Emilia, from Miami, Fl writes:
Why are we not going into this country to help these people?

Ambassador Jendayi Frazer
Emilia, the United States has led the international community in resolving the crisis in Darfur in all areas from the very beginning, including the declaration of genocide, the provision of humanitarian assistance, reaching a political solution, funding the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) peacekeeping operation, and using multilateral diplomatic efforts. The US Government spent $1.3 billion in FY 2005 funds on Sudan – the largest of any international donor. Also, we are actively engaged with all of the parties at the Darfur Peace Talks in Abuja, Nigeria. Our $220 million assistance to AMIS has been essential. I can confidently say that the USG is helping these people, though it is a frustrating situation for all involved. Again, we must also work to build an international response to help the people of Darfur.

Bracha, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania writes:
How can Americans help to end the genocide in Darfur ?

Ambassador Jendayi Frazer
Bracha, thank you for your concern and interest. Americans are generous people and I am glad to hear you and others want to help. As I briefly mentioned to Keri earlier, an excellent first step to helping the situation in Darfur is to truly understand the situation and continue asking questions and keeping the topic in the news.

News coverage keeps international pressure on the Sudanese Government of National Unity (GNU) in Khartoum, which is greatly needed to let it know the world will not ignore the willful commission of atrocities. Beyond that, there are hundreds of non-profit advocacy groups or NGOs that rely on funding to get their messages out or assist on the ground in Darfur. Though I cannot recommend any in particular (because of government ethics regulations) the information is out there.

Patricia, from Corydon, Indiana writes:
Please tell me what is being done to help the people in Sudan from all the violence that is currently going on? I cannot believe our American government has stood by and not done anything to help these poor helpless victims that are being tortured and killed. I cannot imagine in this day and age such barbaric acts are allowed. Please, I beg of you to please help these victims of such violence.Thank you for giving me this opportunity to voice my concerns. Sincerely, Patricia

Ambassador Jendayi Frazer
The United States has been deeply involved in Darfur from even long before we declared it genocide. We have provided substantial funding, including $1.3 Billion last year, to both humanitarian needs and the AMIS mission, and are now working towards the transition to a UN peacekeeping force with more resources and capabilities than the AU currently has. In addition, we provide 86 percent of the food distributed by the World Food Program.

We hear your concerns and are equally outraged, which is why I and my staff work tirelessly on these issues daily. Continue voicing your concerns and urge the media to play a helpful role in highlighting the needs of the Sudanese people.

Ambassador Jendayi Frazer

Thank you for your interest and sincere desire to resolve this horrific situation. The United States will continue to lead in bringing an end to the violence and pushing for a peace accord. President Bush is actively engaged, as are many other administration officials. The State Department's Bureau of African Affairs, which I lead, continues to work aggressively each and every day toward a peaceful resolution. For more information about U.S. government involvement in Sudan and elsewhere in Africa, please see the Department of State web site,

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