Five members of the US Congress this
week sent a letter to President Obama, urging him to appoint a special envoy
for Sudan. The letter follows the issuing of an International Criminal Court
(ICC) arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir and the subsequent expulsion
of 13 foreign aid organizations from Sudan. The ICC warrant accuses President
al-Bashir of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
congressmen say more than one million people are now at risk of being without
food, water and medical care. They also say the Comprehensive Peace Agreement,
which ended the more than 20 year civil war between the north and the south, is
those who sent the letter to President Obama is Congressman Frank Wolf, a
Republican from the state of Virginia, who says a special envoy to
Sudan is needed now.
genocide's been going on for five years. They (Obama administration) put a
special envoy in for the Middle East and I commend them.… They did the same
thing for Afghanistan and Pakistan…. But they've done nothing on Darfur," he
has seen firsthand the conditions in Darfur. "I was the first member of the
Congress, the House, to go to Darfur. I've seen with my own eyes what's taking
place and what continues to take place. And now with the indictment of the ICC
of Bashir, the conditions are even getting worse. And I don't know what they're
waiting for. I just don't know what they're waiting for. So, we're just asking,
please, please, put somebody in, a good person," he says.
says there are a number of qualified candidates for the job of special envoy to
Sudan, Including former senator Bill Frist, John Prendergast of the ENOUGH
Project, Roger Winter, formerly of the US Committee for Refugees, USAID, and
special representative for the State Department, and Ted Dagne of the
Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress.
The Bush administration had appointed
three special envoys to Sudan. Asked whether they were effective, Congressman
Wolf says, "They were partially effective and Senator (John) Danforth was the
one that negotiated the north-south agreement that ended the fighting that had
gone on for 21 years."
says the call for the special envoy is a bi-partisan effort. "There's nothing
partisan at all about Darfur or a special envoy…. Just let's get the thing
done," he says.
rejects the notion that a delay in appointing an envoy is due to the Obama
administration restructuring the State Department following eight years of the
Bush administration. "People are dying every day. All of the NGOs are being
forced out because of the indictment of Bashir…. If you were sick and dying
with the flu or a 104 temperature and I told you that, well, they were going to
wait to reorganize the nursing station before they could get to you. It may
take a couple of weeks. You'd be moaning and groaning and say help. And they're
asking for help. They're begging for help," Wolf says.
Virginia congressman says he thought the first special envoy President Obama
appointed would have been to Sudan. Wolf says that if such an envoy is chosen,
that person would be ready very quickly to take on the crisis. He says, "I
think Senator Frist would be in place within 24 hours. And Roger Winter goes
out to the region quite often and I think Roger would be in place certainly
within 24 hours." He says that the same holds true for Prendergast and Dagne.
Wolf says,"The people there are suffering and it's time to move."
The other members of the House of
Representatives who signed the letter to President Obama are Donald Payne,
Michal Capuano, Alcee Hastings and Chris Smith.