Natsios describes on-going Sudanese crisis

February 8, 2007

Editors’ note: This article has been corrected. The original article contained substantial inaccuracies.

The on-going Darfur crisis is no longer a genocide situation, according to U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Andrew Natsios. Natsios, a Professor in the School of Foreign Service, spoke on Wednesday in Gaston Hall.

Natsios did note, however, that genocide had previously occured in Darfur, amidst the ongoing conflict between inhabitants of the Sadanese region and government-backed Janjaweed militias.

Darfur has been a hot button issue since 2003. 2.5 million people have been displaced and over 400,000 people have died as a result of the conflict, according to Natsios.

“The place is littered with mass graves,” he said. Over 2,000 villages were destroyed from the beginning of the war in 2003 to the present, according a United Nations count cited by Natsios.

Natsios pointed to property issues as a major aspect of the conflict, explaining that the Arab Janjaweed militia has been destroying homes and taking the land and animals.

“Without property in Darfur, you will die,” he said. “You cannot go back to your homes because you have nothing to live off of.”

Natsios called Darfur a catastrophe, but said that he is opposed to continuing to use the word genocide, which President Bush and the State Department use to describe the situation in Darfur.

“The term genocide is counter to the facts of what is really occurring in Darfur,” he said.

“The humanitarian crisis in Darfur, the everyday suffering of children, females and males, is beyond imagination,” Azanaw Mengistu (COL ’09), a STAND member who attended the lecture, said. “Every day millions of Darfurians are losing hope and the international community’s response has been unfortunately disappointing.”

Eric Wind (SFS ’09) agreed that the situation was dire, but his motives for attending the speech were slightly different.

“As a Christian, I condemn the human rights abuses going on in Darfur,” he said. “I hope that the efforts of Ambassador Natsios, world leaders and non-governmental organizations such as STAND will help end unnecessary bloodshed in Darfur.”

Natsios said that the proposed deployment of 10,000 more United Nations troops, along with extensive negotiations, is the next step in ending the conflict.

“If a negotiated approach does not work, then we have to go to Plan B.”

Natsios would not comment on the details of “Plan B” but said that it would involve drastic measures by the United States.

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