[JURIST] US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice [official profile] Thursday reaffirmed the US commitment to ending what she called the "genocide" in Sudan's troubled Darfur region, telling [testimony, PDF] members of the House International Relations Committee [official website] that "the United States is appalled by the ongoing atrocities that have persisted" there. Senior US officials first described the Darfur situation as genocide in 2004, when then-Secretary of State Colin Powell used the term [JURIST report] in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Rice urged members of Congress to support additional funding for transition to a UN peacekeeping mission to bring peace to the war-torn area. Sudan [government website; JURIST news archive] initially refused to allow any UN peacekeeping forces in the country, but began to consider allowing them in last week [JURIST report]. The approximately 7,000 AU troops and monitors presently trying to keep the peace in Darfur have struggled thus far, and the AU has used most of its international funding for the peacekeeping force. The UN Security Council [official website] has authorized UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official profile] to begin drawing up contingency plans for a UN Darfur peacekeeping operations, and Annan said Thursday that he expects the Security Council to authorize the UN peacekeepers to take over for the AU force. Reuters has more.