Mon, Jul 26, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Sudan turns on US Congress over use of `genocide' label


Sudanese authorities on Saturday rejected the US Congress' declaration that the violence in Sudan's Darfur region constitutes genocide.

The US Senate and House of Representatives voted unanimously on Thursday for resolutions urging US leaders and the international community to begin "calling the atrocities being committed in Darfur by their rightful name: genocide."

Al-Tigani al-Fadhil, undersecretary at the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Khartoum, said that the congressional resolutions were biased, unfair and far from the truth. He said that the genocide allegations both exacerbate the Darfur conflict in western Sudan and undermine efforts by the African Union to head off the humanitarian crisis in the region.

Al-Fadhil vowed that his government would mount an anti-US campaign over Darfur to explain Khartoum's position to the relevant regional and international institutions.

He warned that further steps on Darfur by the international community would undermine the ongoing peace process in Sudan's long-running civil war.

US President George W. Bush on Friday demanded that the Khartoum regime halt atrocities by government-linked Janjaweed Arab militias against black African tribes in Darfur, but he stopped short of calling the conflict genocide. The US State Department is assembling evidence on the Darfur violence but has not asserted that the crisis meets technical definitions of genocide.

By widespread estimates, 30,000 Darfur civilians have been killed, more than 130,000 ref-ugees have sought sanctuary in neighboring Chad, and more than 1 million Darfur people fleeing the violence are displaced within Sudan.

Sudan's Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Ibrahim Mahmoud, said on Saturday that his ministry had spent US$2 million on medical needs in Darfur and sent 250 medical staff to alleviate health conditions as the rainy season affects western Sudan.

Reports have grown in the last week of widespread disease due to unhygienic conditions in Darfur. The Sudanese government is still insisting that conditions have improved for internal refugees in the region.

Mahmoud said that the Musa refugee camp in the southern Darfur town of Nyala had been evacuated, with 4,390 displaced families voluntarily returning to their original homes in northern Darfur. He also declared western Darfur free of rebels, whose actions may have precipitated the Janjaweed militia attacks.

The Sudanese government demanded that the international community condemn Darfur rebels for their own humanitarian violations and asked the world to put pressure on the rebel groups.

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