The Bush Administration Thursday for the first time called the violence in Sudan’s Darfur region genocide, echoing a resolution passed by the U.S. Congress in mid-July.
The United States has proposed a resolution to the United Nations Security Council seeking to impose sanctions on Sudan, authorize an expanded African Union peacekeeping operation in Sudan, and ban flights by Sudanese military aircraft in Darfur.
"It is clear that only outside action can stop the killing," President Bush said in a statement Thursday.
"We have concluded that genocide has taken place in Darfur. We urge the international community to work with us to prevent and suppress acts of genocide," Bush said.
According to a resolution passed by the U.S. Congress on July 22, 2004, some 30,000 people have been killed while over 1 million have been displaced, many fleeing to neighboring Chad. There have also been reports of rape and looting.
The United Nations has called the situation in Sudan “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” estimating at least 50,000 have been killed either from direct violence or from starvation.
State Colin Powell earlier told a Senate that the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed militias are responsible for the attack, based on evidence compiled by the United States.
Two years ago, the Sudanese government used the Janjaweed or Arab militias to control a revolt among discontented rebel groups. However, due to reports linking the atrocities to the Arab militias, at the end of July, the United Nations Security Council told the Sudanese government to disarm the Arab militias or face imposed sanctions.
Recent interviews by the State Department confirmed the crisis. The department recently interviewed 1,136 refugees in Chad and reported a "consistent and widespread pattern of atrocities committed against non Arab villagers.” A third of those interviewed said they heard racial epithets while under attack, according to the department report.
The U.S. resolution demands Khartoum to stop the violence and disarm the militias. In order to pass, the U.S. draft resolution must obtain the votes of at least nine of the 15-council members and no vetos.
Although U.N. Security Council members China, Pakistan and Algeria expressed opposition to the draft Thursday, U.S. Ambassador John Danforth told reporters that he expects a revised version of the resolution to be adopted next week.
Meanwhile, Christian humanitarian groups such as World Vision have rushed food supplies and non-food items such as blankets to the refugees in Chad.
"The world cannot ignore the suffering of more than 1 million people,” said Bush.