Last week, President Obama appointed Major General J. Scott Gration as his special envoy for Sudan. Many Members of Congress and those active in the advocacy community called on the administration to take this step, and the recent expulsion of humanitarian aid organizations from Darfur made it all the more pressing. In fact, I joined with four of my colleagues – Reps. Frank Wolf (VA), Donald Payne (NJ), Alcee Hastings (FL), and Chris Smith (NJ) – in writing to the President on March 9th, urging the appointment of an envoy who could address not only the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, but also rampant violence in the region and the increasingly fragile Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
The United States must make it clear now that we will be fully engaged on Sudan and we will take an active role in seeking peace for the region.
I applaud President Obama’s choice for special envoy, and am confident in Gen. Gration’s dedication to addressing the plight of the Sudanese people. His childhood spent in Africa as the son of missionaries and his fluency in Swahili have been widely reported. This intimate personal knowledge of African peoples and their vibrant cultures, coupled with a long and proven career in the United States Air Force, will surely serve Gen. Gration well as he seeks to relate to the regional players and search for new solutions.
While we don’t know all the details about the envoy position yet, I have been advocating for a full-time envoy to coordinate our efforts and oversee an appropriately sized staff with its own dedicated resources. Such a commitment will, in itself, communicate a renewed interest in Sudan and notify the Government of Sudan of our intent to stop the killing and see justice done. I look forward to seeing the Obama administration, through Gen. Gration, confront these challenges.
The author is a Member of Congress from Massachusetts and co-chairs the Sudan Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. This post is the second in a five-part series. Tune in next Wednesday to hear more from Congressman Capuano on Sudan.