US Must Do More to Meet Humanitarian Needs and Press All Parties to Implement Darfur Peace Agreement

As the security situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate, one month after the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), eight leading human rights and humanitarian groups have called on President Bush to speed the deployment of the UN peacekeeping force, while also strengthening the AU force already on the ground. The organizations, alarmed at the silence of the international community as the crisis worsens, also urged the White House to increase funds for humanitarian assistance, work to ease tensions on the border between Sudan and Chad, and to pressure all parties to the DPA to adhere to Agreement.  The letter also calls on President Bush to appoint a high level envoy to coordinate policy on Darfur.

“Basic security in Darfur can only be established if the US and the international community puts all possible diplomatic pressure on the Government of Sudan to accept the UN peacekeeping force without delay,” stated Mark Hanis, Executive Director of the Genocide Intervention Network. “President Bush must take immediate steps to assure the necessary logistical support and resources the African Union force needs to do its job until the UN force arrives.”

The groups asked the Bush administration to play a more visible and vigorous role in holding all parties to meet the deadlines and obligations for civilian protection they have under the agreement.  Targeted sanctions should be used to compel the Government of Sudan to disarm the Janjaweed militias, implement a ceasefire, and protect all civilians in Darfur.

“It has been a month since the Darfur Peace Agreement was signed, and the Government of Sudan has not met its obligations under the accord,” said
David Rubenstein of the Save Darfur Coalition.  “The President must now be ready to take whatever steps are necessary, including targeted sanctions through the UN Security Council, to make sure that the government and the rebel movements live up to their responsibilities to protect the people of Darfur.”

Though the US has been one of the largest donors to humanitarian assistance in Darfur, massive funding increases are needed to meet the basic needs of the millions of people living in displaced persons and refugee camps.  The US Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance is already borrowing money from other accounts to support operations in Darfur.

“President Bush should press the G8 nations to turn their pledges into cash on-the-ground and demand that the Government of Sudan stop obstructing the delivery of humanitarian assistance by refusing visas for humanitarian workers and through other delay tactics”, said Ruth Messinger, Executive Director of American Jewish World Service, another signatory to the letter.

The Bush Administration also to push the Government of Sudan to pledge substantially greater amounts to compensate the survivors of the violence. “The 30 million dollars currently pledged in the DPA is a paltry sum for more than 600,000 households that have lost every single possession due to pillage and plunder,” said Susannah Sirkin, Deputy Director of Physicians for Human Rights.

The following organizations signed today’s urgent demand for US action:  Africa Action, American Jewish World Service, Genocide Intervention Network, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, National STAND (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur) Coalition, Physicians for Human Rights, and the Save Darfur Coalition.

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