After Peace Deal, Next Steps in Darfur

The main rebel group fighting government forces and militia in the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan signed on to a peace agreement earlier this month. Madeleine Brand speaks with the U.S. State Department's Jendayi Frazier, assistant secretary for African affairs, about the next steps in the peace process.

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NOAH ADAMS, host:

The African Union increased the pressure on two rebel factions today to sign on to a peace deal already in place for the Darfur region of Sudan. That agreement is supposed to provide relief to some two million refugees in the region. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazier helped negotiate the deal between the government and the main rebel group in Darfur. She told our colleague, Madeleine Brand, that first NATO and then the U.N. will have to provide peacekeeping to make this new treaty work.

Ms. JENDAYI FRAZIER (Assistant Secretary of State): Darfur is a region the size of Texas, and so we need at least 14,000 troops, which we'll have to turn to the United Nations to get other countries involved. And so we are definitely looking towards a transition. Normally, it takes the human process from six to nine months at the longest, we hope.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

With all due respect, this has been a humanitarian crisis. In fact, it's been called a genocide in the making for the last three years. What's taking so long?

Ms. FRAZIER: Well, we're not just sitting on our hands. We've been working over the last three years. We've been pursuing a peace agreement, which we achieved. Secondly, we are the largest provider of humanitarian assistance to the people of Darfur. And that includes both financial assistance, and we provide over 86 percent of the food that the World Food Program is providing.

And then finally pushing the U.N. Security Counsel for the very purpose of trying to get a resolution passed quickly, so that we can get that U.N. force in place.

BRAND: But meanwhile, daily, the situation on the ground is getting worse and worse. And what do you do right now to alleviate the suffering? I mean, you know, waiting for resolutions to get through could take months.

Ms. FRAZIER: Well, President Bush has called for immediately shipping 2,850 metric tons of commodities. He's diverted five ships to the Port of Sudan. And then he's undertaken an emergency purchase of 40,000 metric tons of commodities, for rapid and direct shipment to Sudan. And we have a full diplomatic offense, working with the international community to try to support and assist the people of Darfur.

But with this Darfur Peace Agreement, we really have an opportunity to move the process much more rapidly forward, so that we can get that U.N. force up and operating.

BRAND: But what if the Sudanese government says, You know what? No, I'm not going to abide by this. And I don't want them in here. Period.

Ms. FRAZIER: We don't expect that to be the case. We fully expect for the government of Sudan to cooperate, because it's in their interest to stop the violence.

BRAND: Well, some have said they have been behind this violence.

Ms. FRAZIER: That's true.

BRAND: So how is it in their interest to stop it?

Ms. FRAZIER: Because it's completely out of control. And it's undermining their own interest. I think everybody is putting pressure on Sudan. They've now signed the Darfur Peace Agreement, so they've taken on the responsibility for implementation of that agreement. And you need the support and help of the United Nations to do that.

BRAND: Doesn't the U.S. face a bit of a conundrum in the fact that the CIA has an interest in being friendly with the Sudanese government, in that it is a key ally in fighting groups like al-Qaida and other terrorist groups? At the same time, the Sudanese government is accused of perpetuating genocide.

Ms. FRAZIER: There is no contradiction there. Not just the CIA but the American people as a whole have an interest in working and pushing governments to not allow al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations to take up safe have in their country. And so that's in America's interest, but just as much in America's interest, the responsibility to not allow genocide to occur in Sudan or anywhere in the world.

BRAND: Ms. Frazier, I want to thank you very much for speaking with us.

Ms. FRAZIER: Thank you very much.

ADAMS: Jendayi Frazier is assistant U.S. Secretary of State for African Affairs.

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