The executive director of a new Darfur advocacy group is calling on the United States to name an envoy to deal exclusively with the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region.
The new group - announced Monday - combines the Save Darfur Coalition and Genocide Intervention Network.
Sam Bell, the executive director said he new group will advocate for more US leadership to bring about progress toward peace in Darfur and the rest of Sudan ahead of and after the January referenda in southern Sudan.
“Save Darfur Coalition and Genocide Intervention Network are merging so we can in the short term seize the opportunity to help prevent new mass violence both around the referendum in southern Sudan and Abyei but also we are very, very worried about what’s happening in Darfur right now,” he said.
Bell cited recent government of Sudan military attacks and troop buildup in Darfur as reasons to be concerned.
He said the Obama administration should do for Darfur what it did for the whole of Sudan in the appointments of General Scott Gration as Sudan envoy and former Ambassador Princeton Lyman as part of an expanded U.S. negotiating team on Sudan.
“We would like the appointment of a high-level diplomat for Darfur to work the issues every day, and there are many, many things to work on - humanitarian aspect, peacekeeping aspect, and peace deal for Darfur,” Bell said.
Bell said his group is concerned the international community might forget the crisis in Darfur, especially as it focuses on the referenda in south Sudan and Abyei.
“What we are saying is that there is violence in southern Sudan and Abyei. But we will increase the wave of violence in Darfur if we ignored it because the diversion of international attention will play into the hands of actors who want fuel new violence in Darfur,” Bell said.
He said the new coalition would be unveiling a new name and a website in the coming months.