Britain supports US on Darfur resolution effort

The US attempt to draft a UN Security Council resolution on Darfur has Britain's backing, an official said Wednesday. Britain "fully supports US efforts to address the desperate situation in Darfur in the Security Council," a spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on condition of anonymity in line with British government policy. "We hope that all members of the (Security Council) will work with the US to create a resolution which will effectively address the challenges in Darfur." The official spoke in Sierra Leone, where Blair was expected later Wednesday on a tour of Africa. Aides had said Blair's agenda on a trip that started Tuesday in Libya and ends later this week in South Africa included trying to build support for action to stop the violence in Darfur. Tuesday, US President George W. Bush ordered new US economic sanctions on Sudan and directed his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, to draft a proposed UN resolution to strengthen international pressure. The US Mission to the United Nations has already drafted a resolution, a Security Council diplomat said Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue. After years of low-level skirmishes over water and other resources among Darfur's tribes, the conflict erupted in earnest in 2003 when members of the region's ethnic African tribes rebelled against what they considered decades of neglect and discrimination by the Arab-dominated central government. Sudanese leaders are accused of retaliating by unleashing Arab militia to put down the rebels and destroy any support they might have among African villagers. The government denies the charges and has repeatedly resisted international efforts to intervene in the region. The fighting in Darfur has displaced 2.5 million people, creating one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. 450 Sudanese refugees have recently fled to Israel seeking asylum.