Press Releases

          27 September 2004

    Urgent Task Is to Do Everything Possible to Help Protect the People of Darfur from Violence, Human Rights Abuse, Secretary-General Tells Security Council

    NEW YORK, 24 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of remarks, as delivered today by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Security Council meeting on the situation in Africa:

    The tragedy in Darfur is one of the greatest challenges the international community faces today.  The whole world is watching this tragedy unfold, and it is watching us. No one can be allowed to sidestep or ignore their responsibility to protect the innocent civilians.

    Our urgent task is to do everything we can to help protect the people of Darfur from further humanitarian suffering, terrible violence, and human rights abuses, and to bring their agony to an end.

    The humanitarian emergency in Darfur is growing, and much, much more needs to be done to mitigate it.  I take this opportunity to reiterate my strong appeal to the international community to respond urgently and generously to the humanitarian appeal for Darfur.

    The African Union has assumed the great responsibility of leadership in both the security and political areas, and I warmly thank it for doing so. I am very pleased to see that the Chairman of the African Union (AU), President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, here with us in the Council. We must give the African Union our unwavering support in word and deed.

    The UN is supporting the AU’s efforts to strengthen its operations in all parts of Darfur. Civilians are still being attacked. We must support the expansion of the AU’s mission to help the people there.  A proactive AU presence can help make them safer. But this will require substantial international resources –- logistics support, equipment and financing. Every country that can help must help, and thereby give content and meaning to our own words of concern.

    The UN is also strongly supporting the AU’s leadership of the political process. The only route to true long-term safety for the civilians in Darfur, and the return of 1.6 million people to their homes, is a genuine political settlement. We must all help the African Union to achieve that goal. I call on the entire international community to make unambiguously clear to both sides that we firmly expect them to resume negotiations for a political settlement in Darfur, and that they must bring to the table the spirit of compromise necessary to reach agreement.

    I see the Chairman of the African Union Commission, Dr. [Alpha] Konare, is here. We do welcome him and I am happy that he is also here.

    The crisis in Darfur is not simply an African problem. It concerns the entire international community. Whatever name we give it, it imposes responsibilities on all of us. We must all rise to this challenge.

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