Urges House Appropriations Committee to Grant or Exceed President’s Emergency Supplemental Funding Request during Markup This Afternoon

Washington, DC – The Save Darfur Coalition, an alliance of 151 faith-based, humanitarian and human rights groups representing 130 million Americans, praised the House International Relations Committee for passing a bill today to sanction the perpetrators of genocide in Darfur, Sudan. The bill is called “The Darfur Peace and Accountability Act” (H.R. 3127). At 4:00pm today, the House Appropriations Committee will hold a markup for President Bush’s emergency supplemental funding request of $514 million for peacekeeping and humanitarian aid in Sudan.

“As the world’s preeminent power, the United States has a moral duty to use that preeminence for peaceful purposes. What better way to demonstrate this role in the world than to stop the slaughter of innocent civilians in Darfur?” said Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president of government affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals and a member of the Save Darfur Coalition (www.savedarfur.org). “We thank Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-IL) and U.S. Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ) for writing the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act and we urge the House Appropriations Committee to grant or exceed the President’s request to fulfill it’s goals.”

Since February 2003, at least 300,000 people are estimated to have died in Darfur as a result of what President Bush and Congress recognized in 2004 to be genocide sponsored by the Sudanese government and perpetrated by its Janjaweed militia allies, with 3.5 million dependent on foreign aid for their survival and 2 million forced by violence to live in makeshift camps.

In November, the Senate passed a similar version of the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act (S. 1462) sponsored by Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS). On February 17, President Bush declared his strong support for both immediate NATO assistance to the African Union (AU) peacekeeping force in Darfur, and for a speedy transfer of authority to a stronger United Nations (UN) force. Last week, the Senate passed a resolution (S. Res. 383) sponsored by the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), to help pave the way for immediate additional NATO help to the African Union peacekeeping force and for a quick transition to a stronger UN peacekeeping force with a robust mandate to protect civilians.

“With each new chapter in the history of genocide, people of goodwill hope and pray that it will be the last,” said Brian Steidle, a former Marine captain and former U.S. representative to the AU peacekeeping mission. Steidle is hosting a 22-city U.S. “Tour for Darfur: Eyewitness to Genocide” as part of a “Million Voices for Darfur” campaign to generate 1 million postcards to President Bush urging him to fulfill his February 17 pledge (www.MillionVoicesForDarfur.org).

“If we act with leadership and resolve in Sudan, history may recount how the American people helped script the final chapter of this ongoing tragedy,” Steidle concluded.

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