Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) addressed the Senate today to call on the Bush Administration to implement a more aggressive international strategy to address the on-going genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.
“The people of the Darfur region of Sudan are crying out for help during their time of despair. It is time for the United States Government to exercise international leadership and take greater strides to stave off a humanitarian disaster,” said Sen. Cardin, a Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “It is not enough to posture and threaten the government in Khartoum. It is time to exercise moral leadership and exercise more muscular diplomacy in an area where so little has been accomplished for so many.”
The genocide in the Darfur region of the Sudan has already claimed the lives of 200,000 people and displaced an additional 3 million.
Sen. Cardin has been an international leader on human rights issues throughout his career. He is currently the Senate Chairman of the Commission of Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission. In 2006, he received an “A” from the Genocide Intervention Network for his strong support of aggressive U.S. action to stop the violence in Darfur.
Approximately 14,000 humanitarian aid workers are currently in the Darfur region to provide life-saving human services to refugees trying to flee the genocide. The majority of these aid workers are Sudanese citizens who face harassment and possible death at the hands of the government and Janjaweed militia. The United States provides roughly $1 billion in food aid to the Darfur region.
The following excerpts are from Sen. Cardin's prepared remarks on the Senate floor:
· “It is imperative the United States and the international community reinvigorate diplomacy with Sudan in order to move Khartoum to reason. This is what I would describe as the Administration's potential Plan B… These include securing a cease fire and protecting humanitarian relief corridors, establishing the hybrid UN-African Union peacekeeping operation and advancing the political dialogue in Darfur.”
· “President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice must place Sudan higher on the U.S.-Chinese agenda. Sudan produces some 500,000 and 600,000 barrels of oil per day. China purchases 80 percent of this oil and invests heavily into Sudan's oil producing infrastructure… The international community has worked hard over the past 20 years for greater progress on democracy and human issues in Africa. Having China thumb its nose at these accomplishments would set a bad precedent for Africa and should have consequences for its allies in the West.”
· “The United States has clearly shown what can be accomplished through sustained and concerted diplomatic efforts. After 21 years of fighting we were able to persuade Khartoum to negotiate with the Sudanese People's Liberation Front (SPLF). This Administration was able to marshal international humanitarian support and the attention of the world to what is happening in Darfur. The United States must provide the vision and the leadership to protect innocent civilians in Darfur.”