This is a partial transcript of "Special Report with Brit Hume", June 30, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.

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COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: Security has to be dealt with. And in the very candid conversations I had with the Sudanese leaders, especially with the foreign minister, we came to a common understanding that Janjaweed must be controlled. They must be broken. They must be kept from perpetrating acts of violence against the civilian population.

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BRIT HUME, HOST: Sudan's foreign ministry now says his government will combat Arab militiamen called Janjaweed (search), who have driven more than a million members of African tribe from their homes. This after Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) met with Sudanese leaders in Khartoum, then toured a refugee camp in Darfur to see the humanitarian crisis there for himself.

So how did things in Sudan come to their present pass? For answers we turn to Princeton Lyman, a veteran American diplomat, who was a former U.S. ambassador to South Africa and an authority on that continent. He joins us from our New York studios.

So tell me, Ambassador Lyman, how did this crisis develop?

PRINCETON LYMAN, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: It developed, Brit, from a revolt that began over a year ago in western Sudan, when people felt there, very neglected by the government and fearing that decisions were being made on resources, and resource distribution between north and south that were going to leave them behind.

Largely black population rose up in revolt, and the government of Sudan responded with a really scorched earth policy. They bombed the villages, and then encouraged and armed these Arab militias.

And the whole thing took on a racial bias, in which these Arab militias, the Janjaweed literally destroyed the villages and the crops of almost all the black population in that area. And drove them from their homes: some going into the neighboring country of Chad, some going into camps, some going into the interior, in places that we haven't been able to reach.

And it's become an extraordinarily nasty and major humanitarian crisis, with strong racial overtones. Not religious. All the population in this area, Arab and black African, are Muslims.

HUME: But this is about -- this is about Arabs against black Africans then?

LYMAN: Yes, because Sudan is a mixed country: largely Arab population in the north, largely black African population in the south and in the west. And that has been the part of the problem in the long-standing civil war between north and south. Now we have this erupting in the western part of Sudan.

And I think for the Sudanese government, the fear is that the whole country may be coming apart. And that may have prompted their -- the degree and the viciousness of their response. But what it has been has been close to a genocide and a terrible human rights situation.

HUME: What's the estimate now of how many have died in this?

LYMAN: Well, it's hard to know. We think that thousands have died, but we don't have good figures.

HUME: Now, Secretary Powell is there in the area where a lot of the trouble has occurred. He has apparently said, just this afternoon, that what he saw today, which I assume is not all there is to see, doesn't make the case for genocide. But the question that comes to my mind is, isn't this the very kind of crisis the United Nations is supposedly good at dealing with? And what has the U.N. done or tried to do?

LYMAN: Well, I think you are right, Brit. This is where the U.N. should be responding. We have supposedly learned our lessons from Rwanda. I think the U.N. has been slow to respond in the way it should. The humanitarian coordinator was out there recently. He said it's the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world. Kofi Annan has spoken out on it, and Kofi Annan, the secretary general, is now in Sudan.

But this kind of pressure and public effort should have been made months ago, when the first evidence of ethnic cleansing and viciousness started to take place. There's an article today in "The Washington Post" detailing the systematic policy of rape, which is a horrible crime against the people of this area.

HUME: Now, the United States is doing what it can. Now, Secretary Powell going there, I suppose. That's a pretty senior delegation, obviously, but has U.S. policy been in this area -- I mean the fact that these people are dying say sign that nobody has done very well. But what about it?

LYMAN: Well, the U.S. was very heavily engaged in helping bring about what is very close to a settlement in the north-south war. And I think our effort there kept us from focusing hard and criticizing sharply the government, as the situation in Darfur developed. Now, we're becoming very active, and the U.N. is beginning to be very active. And the U.S. is putting a lot of pressure on Sudan today.

The immediacy of the crisis, Brit, is that we're going into the rainy season. And if the rains start hard and we don't have humanitarian workers out there, a lot more people will die.

HUME: Because...

LYMAN: That's what makes it so...

HUME: You simply can't get the supplies in, or can't transport them out to the areas that they're needed?

LYMAN: Both. You can't get on there. You can't reach the people.

HUME: Now -- so, is it your view now that the -- that the attention is being sufficiently paid, and that there's some hope here? Or is this just a 50-50 situation, as to whether it will turn into a real calamity?

LYMAN: Well, I think the problem that remains, and you see it in the comments of the Sudanese government with the secretary, they're still somewhat in denial. They're still saying oh, the crisis isn't as serious as everybody says. But we have evidence from people who have been out, visiting the people interviewing the people, that the crisis is very great.

Now, I think the secretary has put some pressure on the Sudanese, and the African countries are starting to put pressure on the Sudanese. I think there has to be some threat to the Sudanese that if they don't get in and disarm those militias, and make it secure for humanitarian workers that the international community has to consider intervening with a military force. May be from African countries.

HUME: That would -- boy, that would be -- represent a change from what the U.N. has recently been willing to do, wouldn't it? Last question.

LYMAN: That it is, and it wouldn't be easy to do. But I think the Sudanese have to be put on notice that they can't just get away with both denial and slow action.

HUME: Got you. Ambassador Lyman, it's always nice to have you. Sir, thank you very much.

LYMAN: Brit, thank you.

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