Washington - United States Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Barack Obama (D-IL) hailed todays passage of the Menendez Amendment to the supplemental appropriations bill, providing $60 million to fund a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur. The amendment makes funds immediately available, pending United Nations authorization of a peacekeeping mission to Darfur.

Genocide is not Sudans problem, it is not Africas problem, it is the worlds problem, Menendez said. As Americans and as human beings we have a moral obligation to help those who are suffering and who cannot help themselves. We also need to make sure that when that force is put in place, it has the mandate, the resources, and the troops it needs to secure peace and protect the people of Darfur. The amendment we passed today ensures those resources are in place.

Today the conflict in the Darfur region is at a breaking point. The war has spread to Chad, aid groups have been expelled and their visas denied, food rations have been cut, and the planting of crops has come to a standstill due to lack of security, said Brownback. Our hope is that providing funding and pressure for a U.N. peacekeeping force in Darfur at this crucial time will help end the suffering of innocent lives caught in this genocidal conflict.

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 Darfur amendment ensures 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.

Amending the supplemental appropriations bill was the only available option to providing immediate resources for U.N. peacekeepers, as funds were not appropriated for Fiscal Year 2006. The amendment adds an identical level of funding to the Contributions to International Peacekeeping Account that has already been approved in the House supplemental appropriations bill.

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).

# # #