The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey, who directs the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, said during a USINFO Web chat on November 17: "The ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan — a 'gross violation' of human rights — is among the top international issues of concern to the United States."
Whenever U.S. officials refer to the situation in Darfur, they call it genocide. Is their assessment of the situation correct, or do they have ulterior motive in painting a grim picture of the situation?
Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell used the term “genocide” for the first time while speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He said, "We concluded — I concluded — that genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed bear responsibility — and genocide may still be occurring."
However, When Powell visited Darfur in June 2004, he resisted questions about whether the abuses amounted to genocide, saying, "what we are seeing is a disaster, a catastrophe, and we can find the right label for it later."
There are no reliable estimates of civilian casualties from the fighting in Darfur due to the limited international access to the area. U.K.-based Dr. Jan Coebergh, who once worked in Darfur, has examined a range of aid agency health surveys. He puts the figures at about 300,000, but he admits it is little more than a stab in the dark. "The reality is that we just don't know the scale of the problem," Dr. Coebergh told BBC News.
The Bush administration keeps on insisting that genocide has been going on in Darfur since 2003, despite the fact that a five-man panel U.N. mission led by Italian Judge Antonio Cassese reported in 2004 that genocide had not been committed in Darfur. The commission concluded that grave human rights abuses were committed. They called for war crime trials.
Critics say that main motivation behind the heightened interest of the U.S. government in Sudan is oil, not human rights. They say that United Nations troops were present in the region when the massacre occurred in Rawanda. The self-appointed champions of humanity remained silent spectators during the crisis. Rebel forces slaughtered 800,000 Tutsis in 100 days. It is not the first time that the International community remained indifferent to genocide. In 1971, the U.S. ignored the genocide in Bangladesh despite frantic calls from diplomatic staff of the American consulate in Dacca.