For this week’s Presidents Day Congressional recess, Senate Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have headed to central and east Africa with plans to visit four countries during their six-day trip.
In both Ethiopia and Tanzania, the senators will focus on public health issues, touring rural clinics and meeting with health officials. In Congo, they will focus on regional security concerns in the eastern region, meet with peacekeepers, and visit camps for Congo’s displaced people. Their final stop, Sudan, will include a meeting with Salva Kiir Mayardit, the president of semi-autonomous region of southern Sudan. They will also travel to Darfur, where they will examine water and sanitation concerns in camps long inhabited by people displaced by the conflict in Sudan’s western region.
As chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, Senator Durbin has been a vocal advocate for people caught in the midst of mass atrocities in Darfur, Congo, and other vulnerable places around the world. He has pushed for the U.S. to demonstrate the leadership to end to the conflict in Darfur, calling it, “one of the most pressing issues facing the international community.”
In a statement on his website, Senator Brown continued to sound the alarm about the suffering in Darfur:
“Civilians in Sudan are being systematically murdered and brutalized by the government and other forces. The world has recognized these atrocities, but has done little to intervene. The United States and the international community must work together to end the genocide.”
Both senators have consistently supported efforts to bring stability to Sudan, Congo, and the surrounding region and currently cosponsor the Congo Conflict Minerals Act of 2009 (S. 891) and the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 (S. 1067).
We’ll keep an eye out for updates from their trip and share them in this space. Stay tuned.
Photo: Tents in an IDP camp at dusk, eastern Congo (Enough/Laura Heaton)