Group cites dramatic increase in large-scale violence, threats to credible Darfur peace process

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(Washington, D.C.)  The Genocide Intervention Network/Save Darfur Coalition (GI-NET/SDC) today urged the United States government to reinvigorate its policy on Darfur.  The call follows reports of renewed violence in Darfur, and comes amid concerns about the future of credible negotiations to reach a Darfur peace agreement.

“Thirty-two thousand Darfuri women, men and children were driven from their homes by violence during the last weeks of December as the world focused on the Southern referendum for independence,” stated Amir Osman, Senior Director for Policy and Government Relations for GI-NET/SDC. “The United States and international community must act to stop future violence and to ensure humanitarian access to care for these displaced people in Darfur while continuing high level engagement on North-South issues.”

GI-NET/SDC also expressed concern about news reports citing U.S. Special Envoy General Scott Gration indicating that he believes the Government of Sudan’s recently released strategy for Darfur is a ‘very good plan.’

“The Government of Sudan’s Darfur plan has serious flaws, including a call to hold Darfur peace negotiations in Sudan, and it would be a policy blunder if the United States endorses such a plan,” stated Osman. “Many of the civil society and rebel representatives who should be around the table in any negotiation would not feel safe traveling within Sudan, and that makes Sudan an impossible venue for such a critical negotiation.”

“The United States should instead support a high-level, internationally mediated negotiation for Darfur peace that would include the Government of Sudan, the major rebel group and civil society representatives, held in neutral location outside of Sudan,” Osman continued. The historic end the North-South war and signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 resulted from a similar process.

“We are heartened by the recent appointment of Ambassador Dane Smith, and we hope he will have an opportunity to increase U.S. engagement on Darfur at this critical time,” concluded Osman. “Given the broad concern Americans have demonstrated on this issue and the strong promises President Obama made as a candidate and since his inauguration, it would be a mistake to pursue a policy with the goal of anything less than meaningful peace, protection and justice for civilians in Darfur.”

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The Save Darfur Coalition and Genocide Intervention Network merged on November 1, 2010 to create a more powerful voice dedicated to preventing and stopping large-scale, deliberate atrocities against civilians. The organization remains committed to its work to end the crisis in Darfur and bring peace to all of Sudan as well as to end violence in other areas of mass atrocities such as Congo and Burma.  The merger creates the world’s largest anti-genocide organization, with a membership base of hundreds of thousands of committed activists globally, an unparalleled nationwide student movement, more than 190 faith-based, advocacy and human rights partner organizations, and a network of institutional investors with over $700 billion in assets under management.

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