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Advocates Launch April Genocide Prevention Month

The month of April is Genocide Prevention month here in the United States. It marks the anniversaries of six major genocides around the world, including Darfur, Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia, the Holocaust and Armenia.

More than 50 of the world's leading humanitarian organizations have joined together to launch a public awareness and education campaign during the month of April.

Jill Savitt, organizer of "Genocide Prevention Month" told VOA the groups hope their advocacy would prevent future genocides.

"What we want the month to show is that there is a support among genocide survivors to try and prevent such crimes from happening by rallying support from the international community," she said.

Tuesday, the groups pre-screened "The Last Survivor", a new documentary which tells the story of four survivors including from Rwanda, Sudan, and Congo.

Savitt said the groups have been working with genocide survivors for a long while.

"We've been working survivors in the of all the previous genocides in the modern era as well as survivors of ongoing atrocity crimes, and there has been become a network of survivor advocates who join forces for each other and the people of Darfur to try and to talk to the international community about prevention. One of our partners in this project is Righteous Pictures which is a documentary film company with two young film makers who have now made a documentary that follows four genocide survivors during their advocacy about genocide prevention," Savitt said.

She said her organization works with survivors from all of the previous genocides.

We work with Darfurians who are living in exile in the United States and in Canada, and the UK. As part of this month, they are organizing events around the world during April because April is the start of the seventh year of the Darfur genocide. We are working with Congolese, and while that conflict hasn't been called genocide, those survivors of that massive crime are also trying to urge the international community to act," Savitt said.

She said her organization welcomes President Barack Obama's appointment of retired Air Force Major General Scott Gration as his special envoy for Sudan.

But Savitt said it remains to be seen whether General Scott would have the mandate to really bring peace to Darfur.

"We welcome the appointment of the envoy for Sudan. The Obama administration is showing leadership in that regard. What we now need to see is this envoy really engaging Obama in the task of bringing peace to Darfur. We need the envoy to do this job every day, to have the mandate to address all parties, and access to the Oval office and to the UN to try and bring in international leaders to bring the parties to the negotiating table," Savitt said.