Editor’s note: This blog was written Enough Project intern Mia DiBenedetto.
On July 11, 2014, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-TN), and African Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Christopher Coons (D-DE), wrote a letter to President Obama expressing deep concern over the escalating violence in Sudan. The Senators urged the Obama Administration to elevate its current efforts toward addressing the violence in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile, as well as to strengthen the existing mandate to “ensure the protection of civilians, improve humanitarian access, and seek sustainable political resolutions.”
The letter acknowledges current U.S. efforts towards the crisis in Sudan and supports Special Envoy Donald Booth’s focused endeavors for peace in South Sudan, but states that more is needed:
"…increased U.S. attention to Khartoum’s recurrent policy of opportunistic violence across Sudan is urgent and necessary. The international community should ensure unrelenting scrutiny on the government of Sudan to stem the loss of innocent lives and prevent its policies, set in motion a decade ago, from becoming permanent."
The letter mentions concern over the role of the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the spread of violence. The RSF is made up of many former Janjaweed militia and leaders who are now newly trained, heavily armed, and re-branded. The Senators also express grave concern with regard to recent allegations that the United Nations/African Union Hybrid Mission in Darfur, UNAMID, has failed to correctly investigate and report on violence against peacekeepers and civilians. In response, the Senators urge the Administration to work within the UN to ensure UNAMID’S mandate is “comprehensively reviewed,” and any renewal reform the mission focuses on “legitimate protection of civilians and human rights.” Lastly, the Senators recommend increased diplomatic engagement and communication within the international community in order to “strengthen enforcement of existing multilateral sanctions and designate new individuals implicated in atrocities in Sudan.”
As the possibility of further escalation of violence in Sudan looms, it is imperative that the United States strengthens its current efforts toward supporting lasting peace in Sudan. The Enough Project applauds the Senator’s initiative and urge the administration to take heed of their concerns and act to curb the violence and targeting of innocent civilians in Sudan.
Read the letter Senators Menendez, Corker, and Coons sent to the Obama Administration.
Read the letters which 78 international human rights groups sent to Congress and the Administration last month calling for a fresh approach to U.S. policy on the war-torn countries of Sudan and South Sudan.