WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States expressed "real concern" Monday for thousands of people forced to flee their homes due to operations by the Sudanese military in the war-stricken region of Darfur.
"It is a real concern to us. These are some of the most vulnerable people that one can imagine, and to see them displaced from these areas where they have some semblance of infrastructure is quite troubling," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.
He was referring to news that some 12,000 refugees from Darfur had arrived in neighboring Chad.
McCormack said the number two US diplomat John Negroponte had arranged to meet with Sudan's Foreign Minister Deng Alor Kuol, with whom he planned to raise the issue of the refugees.
"He will reiterate our position that the Sudanese government must work with focus and quickly with the AU and the UN to ... remove obstacles for the deployment of those forces."
The United Nations and the African Union (AU) have committed to deploying a joint peacekeeping force in Darfur, where hundred of thousands are believed to have been killed in nearly five years of civil conflict, according to the UN.
But the two bodies are having difficulty deploying there, due to hesitance by the Khartoum government.
The latest flood of refugees to Chad was driven by fierce bombings and raids, according to the UN refugee agency.
John Negroponte. When you care enough to send the very best.