A U.N. special envoy for Sudan and the Sudanese foreign minister have agreed on a plan to disarm Arab militias accused of a reign of terror in Sudan's western Darfur region to avert sanctions threatened by the U.N. Security Council.
U.N. special envoy Jan Pronk and Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail "reached agreement last night on detailed steps to be taken in the next 30 days to begin disarming the Janjaweeds and other outlaw groups, improve the security in Darfur and address the humanitarian crisis," said a U.N. spokeswoman, Denise Cook.
According to Cook, the text of the agreement will be reviewed by the Sudanese Cabinet.
On August 4, over 100,000 Sudanese protested at the United Nations office in Khartoum against the organization's intervention in the Darfur region. According to news agencies reports, the protesters were organized by the Sudanese government.
One of Annan’s representatives said he believed that assigning public responsibility for peacekeeping efforts to the African Union would be the best way to assure cooperation from Khartoum.
The U.S. Congress has declared the Sudan crisis a “genocide?and the United Nations has described the situation in Darfur as the world's worst current humanitarian crisis. Some 33,000 people have been killed by Arab militants who were used by the government to suppress a rebellion started a revolt led by two main rebel groups last year, protesting neglect. Around 2.2 million people are in urgent need of food, medicine and shelter in the western Darfur region, where the revolt was launched.
On July 30, the Security Council gave Khartoum 30 days to disarm the pro-government Arab Janjaweed militias accused of committing atrocious acts, which of the least includes setting fire to villages, killing, raping and driving people off their land.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is to report back to the Security Council on August 30 how much progress has been made.
The police commissioner in North Darfur state told the pro-government Sudanese Media Center that the disarmament process would begin this week.
"The disarmament campaign would be carried out on voluntary basis or through rushing into the suspected areas," Commissioner Jamal al-Huwairs told the semi-official Sudanese Media Center.
According to Pronk, the government has taken some action to address the situation.
"They have deployed many more policemen in the region and they have stopped their own military activities against villages.
"They have lifted all restrictions on humanitarian assistance,?he said.
Pronk said the government will make “full use of this opportunity by coming in with more food, more planes, more trucks, more medication.?
Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that Sudan had not done enough.
"Violence and atrocities on a wide scale continue to be committed against the civilian population in Darfur," he wrote.
"To date the Government of Sudan has removed many obstacles to humanitarian access, cooperated with the African Union cease-fire monitors and agreed to participate in political talks. The Sudanese government has not, however, taken decisive steps to end the violence."
Annan said, “The Council made it clear that if they fail to perform, there will be consequences, and I hope that, if they do fail to perform, all the Council members will be ready to act."