ABUJA, Nigeria – Sudan’s foreign minister said Monday a U.N. report concluded that no genocide was committed in his country’s Darfur region, where tens of thousands of civilians have died in a nearly two-year crisis.
At U.N. headquarters in New York, diplomats confirmed that the report did not find that Sudan had committed genocide, but they said it was very critical of Sudanese government actions. The report was expected to be circulated in New York on Tuesday.
The United States has accused Sudan’s government of directing militia who attack civilians in what Washington has called a genocidal campaign in the western region.
“We have a copy of that report and they didn’t say that there is a genocide,” Sudan Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said on the sidelines of an African Union summit in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
Last year, the United Nations (news – web sites) said the Darfur conflict created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (news – web sites) said Sunday a report on the situation would be forwarded to Security Council members “very shortly.”
Annan declined to say whether the team made a genocide determination.
“Regardless of how the commission describes what is going on in Darfur, there is no doubt that serious crimes have been committed,” he said.
U.S. diplomats at the United Nations said recently they would make proposals to the Security Council to bring the perpetrators of atrocities in Darfur to justice.
Also Monday, Sudan’s government and Darfur rebels said they will reopen long-stalled peace talks within weeks in Nigeria.
The Darfur conflict began in February 2003 when the Sudan Liberation Army and allied Justice and Equality Movement took up arms against what they considered years of state neglect and discrimination against Sudanese of African origin.
The government responded with a counterinsurgency campaign in which an Arab militia, known as the Janjaweed, committed wide-scale abuses against the African population. An estimated 1.8 million people have been displaced in the conflict, and more than 70,000 people are believed to have died from hunger and disease since March.