Published September 24, 2004
NAIROBI, Kenya – It may take up to two years to disarm the Arab militia in the Darfur (search) region of western Sudan (search) and secure the vast region for the return of 1.2 million people who fled the violence there, a senior U.S. diplomat said Friday.
There are no "30-day, 90-day quick fixes" to the problem, said Charles Snyder, the State Department's Senior Representative on Sudan. "This is going to take, in my view, 18 months to two years to conclude the first phase" of making the region safe for people to return to their homes.
Pro-government Arab militias, known as Janjaweed (search), are accused of waging a 19-month campaign of murder, rape and arson in Darfur. According to United Nations estimates, more than 1.2 million people have fled their homes to escape the violence and more than 50,000 have died.
The United Nations calls Darfur the world's worst humanitarian crisis. The United States and others call it genocide.
In an 11-0 vote Sept. 18, the U.N. Security Council said it would meet again to consider sanctions against Sudan's petroleum sector, or other measures, if Sudan did not act quickly to stop violence in Darfur and bring the perpetrators to justice.
The resolution also authorized U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search) to appoint a commission to investigate reports of human rights violations in Darfur and determine "whether or not acts of genocide have occurred."
Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir (search) shrugged off the U.N. resolution, saying his government was not afraid of it.