US's Natsios: "The term genocide is counter to the facts of what is really occurring in Darfur"
The on-going Darfur crisis is no longer a genocide situation, according to U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Andrew Natsios. Natsios, a Professor in the School of Foreign Service, spoke on Wednesday in Gaston Hall.- - -
Natsios did note, however, that genocide had previsouly occured in Darfur, amidst the ongoing conflict between inhabitants of the Sudanese region and government-backed Janjaweed militias.
Darfur has been a hot button issue since 2003. 2.5 million people have been displaced and over 400,000 people have died as a result of the conflict, according to Natsios.
"The place is littered with mass graves," he said. Over 2,000 villages were destroyed from the beginning of the war in 2003 to the present, according a United Nations count cited by Natsios.
Natsios pointed to property issues as a major aspect of the conflict, explaining that the Arab Janjaweed militia has been destroying homes and taking the land and animals.
"Without property in Darfur, you will die," he said. "You cannot go back to your homes because you have nothing to live off of."
Natsios called Darfur a catastrophe, but said that he is opposed to continuing to use the word genocide, which President Bush and the State Department use to describe the situation in Darfur.
"The term genocide is counter to the facts of what is really occurring in Darfur," he said.
UPDATE: Via CFD Feb 16 2007 - Correction From The Georgetown Voice: While we stand by our account that Natsios is opposed to using the word "genocide" to continue to describe the current situation in Darfur, the article should have included a sentence stressing that Natsios still believes that, at its height, the crisis constituted a "genocide."