July 5, 2006
Today, Congressmen Mike Capuano (D-MA), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and Frank Wolf (R-VA), co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Sudan wrote to President Bush expressing deep concern over the worsening humanitarian situation in Darfur and calling on him to immediately appoint a Special Envoy to Sudan. 159 members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, joined the Caucus Chairs in issuing this request.
"With the recent announcement of Deputy Secretary Zoellick's planned departure from the Administration, we urge you once again to move forward in appointing a Presidential Special Envoy for Peace in Sudan. As you know, this month you signed into law the Emergency Supplemental Act, which included $250,000 to assign this Special Envoy. We encourage you and your staff to move expeditiously in order to help resolve this conflict in Darfur as soon as possible. The immediate appointment of a Special Envoy would demonstrate clearly to all parties and the international community that the United States will remain engaged and committed at the highest level to bringing peace to Darfur," the members wrote.
The situation in Darfur remains critical. Despite the recent signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement between the government of Sudan and the Sudan Liberation movement (SLM), prospects for lasting peace remain uncertain and precarious. Civilians are still vulnerable to attacks and humanitarian access is severely limited.
"The need for security in Darfur is great and civilian protection must remain our first priority. Without the presence of a strong peacekeeping force, civilians will continue to suffer and the fragile Darfur Peace Agreement may break. The United Nations Security Council must move rapidly to deploy a UN peacekeeping force to Darfur with a mandate to protect civilians," the co-chairs wrote.
Also today, the co-chairs of the Sudan Caucus expressed grave concern over the delay in the deployment of UN peacekeepers and the AU's announcement of its intended withdrawal when its mandate expires.
The African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) remains the only force on the ground in Darfur. The mandate of these 7700 personnel is set to expire September 30, 2006 and a United Nations deployment is now not expected until January 2007. The government of Sudan continues to oppose any UN peacekeeping force in Darfur.
"It is critical that innocent civilians are protected. The deployment of a robust peacekeeping force cannot be delayed or obstructed. Thousands of innocent lives depend on it," stated the co-chairs.
Contact: Alison M. Mills (617) 621-6208