Bush calls Sudan crisis 'genocide'
Updated on 29 May 2007
George Bush imposed new US sanctions on Sudan and sought support for an international arms embargo out of frustration at Sudan's refusal to end what he called a genocide in Darfur.
"The people of Darfur are crying out for help, and they deserve it," Bush said.
Accusing the Sudanese government of obstructing UN efforts to bring peace to Darfur, Bush said the US Treasury Department will bar 31 companies controlled by Sudan from doing business in the U.S. financial system.
The companies targeted included firms in Sudan's booming oil business and one that has been transporting weapons to the Sudanese government and militia forces in Darfur. Bush also imposed economic sanctions on four Sudanese individuals, including two senior Sudanese officials and a rebel leader suspected of involvement in the Darfur violence.
Khartoum criticized the sanctions before they were even formally announced.
"I think these sanctions are not justified. It is not timely. We are cooperating well with the United Nations," Mutrif Siddig, Sudanese undersecretary for foreign affairs, said.
The ratcheting up of US pressure coincides with a broader effort by UN officials to get Sudan to end the conflict that the United Nations says has killed more than 200,000 people and driven 2 million from their homes since 2003.
Khartoum says 9,000 have died and rejects accusations of genocide.
"My administration has called these actions by their rightful name: genocide. The world has a responsibility to help put an end to it," Bush said.
Background to the crisis
- The US originally imposed sanctions against Sudan in 1997, but the measures outlined today strengthen those restrictions.
- Sudanese companies and individuals which the US believes are involved in the violence will be barred from trading or banking with the US. China opposes the move - it is one of Sudan's biggest oil customers.
- Conflict began in 2003 in the Darfur region of Sudan when rebel groups began attacking government targets. The rebels said that the government was not doing enough to help the region - and that it was neglecting black Africans in favour of the Arab population.
- The government reacted with a military and police campaign to quell the rebellion. It has since been accused of bombing villages and collaborating with Arab militia, the Janjaweed, in a bid to oust black Africans from the country.
- Around two million have fled their homes in the region over the past four years, including hundreds of thousands to neighbouring Chad. It is thought that over 200,000 have died in Sudan and Chad since the conflict began.
- Refugees from Darfur report widespread slaughter, rape and theft by the Janjaweed that human rights groups - and the US - say amount to genocide. The UN previously found that while war crimes had occurred, there had been no intent to commit genocide.
- The African Union has committed 7,000 peace-keepers to the area. Having previously rejected the deployment of UN peacekeepers on the grounds that it would compromise Sudanese sovereignty, in April the Sudanese government agreed to a partial UN deployment to reinforce AU troops. But many fear this will not be enough.
The Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir has denied that his government is associated with the Janjaweed.