Congress Passes Darfur Peacekeeping Measure In Budget, Heads To Presidents Desk

Congress Passes Darfur Peacekeeping Measure In Budget, Heads To Presidents Desk

Menendez, Brownback, Obama hail $60M in peacekeeping funds as step forward toward peace and stability in Sudan

Washington - United States Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Barack Obama (D-IL) praised todays vote on the supplemental appropriations bill, which provides $60 million to fund a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur. The senators, along with Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives, fought for this measure to be included in the final bill, the so-called conference report. The Darfur measure makes funds immediately available to the United Nations to support a peacekeeping mission to the war-torn region.

Our efforts today bring us one step closer to bringing peace, stability and normalcy to that region, Menendez said. Genocide has no political affiliation, and today both Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives stood together in unity to reject the atrocities that have beset those in the Sudan.

The situation is simple: if we dont act, people will die, Brownback said. The fragile cease fire in Darfur needs international support if it is to hold, and funding a UN peacekeeping mission will help avoid a continuation of the tragic cycle of violence in Darfur and Sudan.

"Sometimes with international issues there is a lack of moral clarity, and we can't always tell who is doing right, and who is being wronged, Obama said. This is not one of those times, and we have an obligation as a compassionate people to help. This additional funding is an important step in the right direction, but we still have a long ways to go. My hope is that as we go forward, the administration and other nations will work together to push the Sudanese to admit a United Nations peacekeeping force."

An estimated 200,000 to 400,000 people have been murdered and another two million displaced in Darfur, a Sudanese region the size of Texas. Seven thousand African Union troops have been deployed to the region yet lack the financial and logistical resources necessary to control the situation. Their force is under-funded, under-equipped, and lacks a mandate to protect civilians. The funds included in the budget supplemental ensure that when a U.N. mission is authorized and deployed, it has the resources and the troops necessary to secure peace and protect the people of Darfur.

A United Nations assessment team recently completed a trip to Darfur to analyze the situation in the region. However, without the approval of the Sudanese government, the UN cannot send in forces to put an end to the killing and protect innocent civilians. It is now incumbent on the international community to pressure the Sudanese Government to cooperate, and thereby allow a peacekeeping force into the country.

Menendez, Brownback and Obama were joined in sponsoring this amendment by Senate colleagues Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

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