Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s Interview with Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports”

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Adré, Chad
September 6, 2023


QUESTION: Turning now to Central Africa where the United Nations is investigating allegations of genocide in Sudan. NBC’s Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, and the Anchor of this program, Andrea Mitchell traveled to a refugee camp in Chad with the UN Ambassador – in a television news exclusive – where a stream of refugees are arriving everyday to flee the horrors of war.

QUESTION: They’re among more than 400,000 people who have escaped across the border to Chad from the brutal civil war in neighboring Sudan that erupted in force four months ago. The exodus now amounting to 2,000 people a day. We visited a makeshift camp there with UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who wanted to hear firsthand what they’ve experienced.

AMBASSADOR LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: And these are her two grandchildren?

REFUGEE: No food, no drinks.

QUESTION: Hasna Ibrahim Yukob (ph) fled with her family after their older brother was killed by the militias, their home destroyed.

QUESTION: What do you hope for?

REFUGEE: We need the peace.

QUESTION: Suwar (ph) feared being targeted because she’s a lawyer, so she fled.

QUESTION: Why did you come here?

REFUGEE: I’m afraid. I’m afraid.

QUESTION: This Doctors Without Borders hospital cares for the sick, including a recent measles epidemic and starving children.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: It is overwhelming. I think that’s the only word that I can use. I see those little children. I saw a six-month-old who looked like a newborn, and I was told by the doctors that, actually, she was doing better. Showing that what we do actually save lives.

QUESTION: But who can heal the pain from the terror they’ve experienced? Many of the women in this makeshift camp tell of being raped by the marauding militias, who kill the men and steal the boys to recruit them. It has led the UN to start investigating a possible genocide. Humanitarian officials are reporting mass graves. I went to the Darfur region of Sudan in 2005 with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. That was declared a genocide. The same region erupting in violence now. Eighteen years later, history is repeating itself, and the leaders of the previous horrors have still not been brought to account.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, it did change, but now we are seeing the evidence of it starting again. What we see happening in Darfur right now portends to what we saw happening in Darfur in 2004. So we have gone backward in those years.

QUESTION: The UN says it needs a billion dollars more to feed, house, and heal the refugees, and so far has raised only a third of that – hardly enough to deal with a tragedy of this scale. But today the Ambassador announced the U.S. did sanction some militia leaders for mass atrocities, and another $163 million in aid, with no end in sight for the war and a flood of its desperate victims.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We can’t give up. We can’t give up. They have not been held accountable, but they will be held accountable. And we are working with civil society and with others to ensure that we help them get the information – the evidence that they need to hold them accountable.

QUESTION: And Andrea joins us now live from the capital of Chad. Just brilliant reporting as always, Andrea. The pictures of these children are heartbreaking. What else did the UN Ambassador tell you about meeting the people at the camp?

QUESTION: Thank you, Ryan. I also asked the Ambassador about the atrocities. With refugees telling us about the militias repeatedly gang raping the women, killing the men, and pictures that have now been verified by human rights groups of mass graves.

AMBASSADOR THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I just met with a group of young women who had fled because they feared – they had seen their friends raped. They had seen men killed and they feared for their lives. And they came here. But one woman told me something that really struck me. She said, “I lost my ambition.” And I encouraged her to keep her ambition. That that was hers. And that at some point life would improve for her.

QUESTION: That’s, of course, the hope, Ryan. But, since I was here 18 years ago, there have been 16 failed ceasefires – new governments. And what we are seeing again is ethnic cleansing on a truly horrifying scale.

QUESTION: And Andrea, we also have a clip of an interview that you did with then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2005 when you went to the Darfur region of Sudan. Let’s take a listen to that.

SECRETARY CONDOLEEZZA RICE: We have a problem with violence against women. In the camps, outside the camps. And we’ve recognized –

QUESTION: Talking about rape –

SECRETARY RICE: – this problem. Yes.

QUESTION: – rape as a weapon –

SECRETARY RICE: Yes, of course. Of course. But, again, it is a difficult thing for these women to come forward and say – Because they have to live here.

QUESTION: There have been leaders here – your predecessor Colin Powell, Tony Blair, Kofi Annan, your deputy – the Sudanese government keeps promising that they are going to stop the killings. And we have evidence that they are supporting the militias that are doing the killings. What good are their promises?

SECRETARY RICE: I said this morning that they have a problem with credibility. That, in fact – And I said it directly to them. That people need to see action, not just hear words.

QUESTION: Andrea, are there any solutions?

QUESTION: Well, the U.S. and some African countries – also a few in the Middle East – they’re trying to negotiate a ceasefire. That would be a first step, at least, towards getting aid in that’s needed so desperately. And investigators from human rights groups – getting them access to evidence of these atrocities. But as for a lasting peace? That’s not likely.