Coalition Applauds President’s Call for UN Peacekeepers and Appointment of Andrew Natsios as Special Envoy

Calls for Immediate Action to Turn Words into Reality

Washington, DC – The Save Darfur Coalition today applauded President Bush’s commitment to get UN peacekeepers into Darfur and his appointment of Andrew Natsios to be his Presidential Special Envoy for Sudan during his address to the United Nations.  The Coalition also stressed the need for both Mr. Natsios and President Bush to immediately increase pressure on the Sudanese Government to accept the already authorized UN peacekeeping force.  Natsios previously served as the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and as the Special Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan.

“By appointing Andrew Natsios to be his Special Envoy for Sudan, the President has told the world that he is serious about ending the crisis and building a lasting peace, and that means getting true security to the people who need it,” said David Rubenstein, Coordinator of the Save Darfur Coalition.  “The true measure by which history will judge the President’s efforts to end this genocide is not what he says today, but what he does tomorrow. He and Mr. Natsios must be relentless until the genocide is stopped.”

Since the President first announced his support for UN peacekeepers in February, the process has gradually moved forward to supplement the current African Union peacekeeping force of 7,000 with a UN force.  The African Union force is widely recognized as undermanned and underfunded, and it has expressed its support for the “blue-helmeting” of the mission into a UN force.

On August 31, the final bureaucratic hurdle was passed when the UN Security Council authorized a peacekeeping force for Darfur of 22,500 troops and personnel.  That force has not yet begun to deploy, however, due to the Sudanese Government’s refusal to give their consent.  The UN Security Council has never in its history failed to deploy a peacekeeping mission once it has authorized it.

In addition to working on the deployment of the UN force, Mr. Natsios is also expected to push for additional U.S. and international funding for security and humanitarian aid in Darfur, as well as possible punitive measures against the Government of Sudan such as additional sanctions and the enforcement of a no-fly zone in Darfur.

On Sunday, roughly 30,000 men and women of conscience attended a rally sponsored by the Save Darfur Coalition in New York’s Central Park.  Hundreds of thousands more attended more than 50 additional events in dozens of countries on six continents.

Since February 2003, the worsening genocide sponsored by the Sudanese government and perpetrated by its Janjaweed militia allies has claimed at least 400,000 lives, displaced 2.5 million people and left nearly 4 million men, women and children completely dependent on international humanitarian aid.

The Save Darfur Coalition comprises 175 faith-based, human rights, and civil-society organizations working together to provide protection to the people of Darfur.  For more information on the Coalition and rallies, please visit www.savedarfur.org andwww.dayfordarfur.org.

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