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Lawmakers Warn of Fading Focus on Darfur

US lawmakers are urging that the situation in Sudan's Darfur region not be forgotten amid efforts to help victims of the tsunami disaster.

Congressman Frank Wolf, a Virginia Republican and one of the leading monitors in Congress of the situation in Sudan, is concerned the world's attention has been diverted from what he calls ongoing atrocities in Darfur.

"Women continue to be raped, children continue to die from hunger and disease, men continue to be murdered by the government-sponsored janjaweed [Arab militias], new attacks continue to be launched against defenseless villages,” said Mr. Wolf. Many of these people have been huddled in camps for over a year, and the international community has failed them over and over again."

In a reference to tsunami victims, Mr. Wolf says the world should focus not only on disasters as they occur, but also has a responsibility to respond to long-running situations such as that in Darfur.

The Republican lawmaker says the agreement between the Sudanese government and rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Army provides a historic opportunity for comprehensive peace in Sudan.

Congressman Wolf believes southern rebel leader John Garang can and should play a key role in mediating in the situation in Darfur.

Mr. Wolf also says U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan should threaten to resign in protest if members of the U.N. Security Council block a new stronger resolution regarding Darfur:

"He should use his power and his prestige to make a passionate plea to the Security Council, and the General Assembly at large, to deal effectively with the issue of Sudan,” he added. “We cannot on behalf of the people living in these camps, continue to allow the status quo. I believe if the Security Council fails to take meaningful action, Secretary Annan should resign in protest."

Mr. Wolf says his call for a resignation in protest by Mr. Annan should not be confused with calls for the secretary-general's resignation in connection with the scandal over the former U.N. Oil for Food Program in Iraq.

Also addressing the Darfur situation Tuesday were two U.S. senators, John Corzine and Sam Brownback.

In a newspaper editorial, they also urge the world not to turn away from Darfur. They urge deployment of thousands more peacekeeping troops, stronger measures including sanctions against the Khartoum government, and steps to prosecute those responsible for atrocities in Darfur.