Tags: France's | Sarkozy: | 'Silence | Kills' | Darfur

France's Sarkozy: 'Silence Kills' in Darfur

Monday, 25 June 2007 12:00 AM

PARIS -- Saying "silence kills", French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged delegates to a meeting on the humanitarian crisis in Darfur on Monday to find a way to stop the violence ravaging Sudan's vast west.

France gathered senior officials from more than a dozen countries at a Paris meeting aimed at galvanizing international efforts to stabilize the western Sudanese region, where the United States has declared that genocide has taken place.

Sudan, which did not attend the meeting, agreed earlier this month to a combined United Nations and African Union peacekeeping force of more than 20,000 troops and police but many diplomats doubt it will keep its word.

The aim of the force is to stop the violence in Darfur, where international experts estimate 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been expelled from their homes in more than four years of strife. Sudan says 9,000 people have died.

"As human beings, and as politicians, we must resolve the crisis in Darfur," Sarkozy told the officials gathered at France's Elysee presidential palace.

"Silence kills," he added. "We want to mobilize the international community to say 'enough is enough'."

Sarkozy said he hoped to strengthen international efforts to broker a political solution, something U.S. officials say is vital to help the proposed hybrid force stabilize the region.

He also said the existing force of 7,000 AU troops, which is widely seen as ineffective and is to be reinforced by the proposed hybrid force, must get more funding. He said France was willing to contribute roughly 10 million euros ($13.46 million).

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the meeting was "clearly about political support for the initiatives taken by the African Union and the United Nations".

Delegations from the world's top aid donors, members of the Group of Eight industrialized nations and powerful Sudan ally China met for a day of meetings on finding a political solution to the conflict as well as on humanitarian and security issues, development and reconstruction.

France has shown greater interest in Darfur since Sarkozy took office and has proposed sending an international force to neighboring Chad to provide stability for refugee camps there, which house tens of thousands of people who have fled Darfur.

French financial aid to Darfur remains low compared with other European powers. It gave 3.9 million euros ($5.25 million) in 2006, with 2.5 million euros this year, U.N. figures show.

The Darfur problem dates to early 2003 when non-Arab rebels took up arms, accusing the government of not heeding their plight in the remote, arid region. Khartoum mobilized Arab militia to quell the revolt.

Some militia members, known locally as Janjaweed, embarked on a campaign of killing, pillage and rape. Sudan denies it supported the Janjaweed, and calls them outlaws.

Rebels in Darfur have split into more than a dozen groups since a peace deal last year signed by only one of three rebel negotiating factions. Rebels have been blamed in recent months for attacks on civilians, including aid workers.

On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the international community has failed in its responsibility to halt the killings in Darfur.

An AU-U.N. mediation initiative hopes to have all factions in the dispute ready to begin talks around August.

© reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

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PARIS -- Saying "silence kills", French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged delegates to a meeting on the humanitarian crisis in Darfur on Monday to find a way to stop the violence ravaging Sudan's vast west. France gathered senior officials from more than a dozen countries...
France's,Sarkozy:,'Silence,Kills',Darfur
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2007-00-25
Monday, 25 June 2007 12:00 AM
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