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US Legislators Urge Stronger UN Stand on Sudan - 2004-07-27


Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives are pressing the United Nations to take swifter action to halt violence against civilians in the western Darfur region of Sudan.

Representative Jan Schakowsky (Democrat-Illinois) said she wanted to tell U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan that security for the Sudanese people should be a top concern for the international community.

"We wanted to make him aware of the resolutions unanimously passed in a bipartisan fashion, both in the United States House and Senate last Thursday, that declared the situation a genocide, and calling for immediate action to respond to that," said Congresswoman Schakowsky. "We are very concerned that the security situation be dealt with immediately in the Sudan. We understand that would require an influx of resources, and we wanted to talk to him about the role that the United States and the international community can play."

International pressure on Sudan has been mounting. Last week, Congress passed a non-binding resolution that called the atrocities in Darfur acts of genocide. The United States also circulated a tougher draft U.N. resolution on sanctions. On Monday, European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels called for the United Nations to consider imposing sanctions on Sudan.

Representative Donald Payne (Democrat-New Jersey), accused the Sudanese government of not doing enough to end the atrocities committed by Arab militias against the region's black African civilians.

"We are very disturbed at the lack of concern from countries outside the U.S., the Europeans, the African Union," he said. "The fact that everyone seems to feel that the government of Sudan is going to act in good faith. We know that the government of Sudan does not act in good faith. It acts when it feels it has to."

International human rights groups say the government of Sudan is providing support to the Janjaweed militia, which the government denies.

Mr. Payne called on the Security Council to act quickly. "I think that the Security Council should step up to the plate and all 15 countries agree that this is a humanitarian tragedy," said the congressman. "They know what will happen when the rains come. The measles will break out, the diphtheria will go on, the diarrhea will kill, and these will be quiet deaths. They will be children who are very fragile at this time and will die. Numbers will be difficult to even count."

U.N. officials estimate at least 30,000 people have died in Darfur, and more than a million have been displaced in what the United Nations says is the worst humanitarian disaster in the world.

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