June 5, 2013
Dear Members of Congress:
We are writing as faith-based groups to support the introduction by Representatives Jim McGovern, Frank Wolf, and Michael Capuano of the “Sudan Peace, Security, and Accountability Act of 2013” and to encourage you to sign on as a co-sponsor to the legislation.
As American faith-based groups this is an issue of both global and local concern. Many of our communities and members are personally familiar with the ongoing crises in Sudan and South Sudan as we maintain strong partnerships with congregations and communities in Sudan and South Sudan, work to provide humanitarian services on the ground, and count many Sudanese and South Sudanese among our congregations in the United States.
The Sudan Peace, Security, and Accountability Act of 2013 comes at a critical moment. Ten years after the start of the genocide in Darfur attacks on civilians continue and have spread to other parts of Sudan. With the continued displacement of over 2 million Darfuris and UN estimates of another million people displaced or severely affected by violence in the states of Abyei, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile, it is essential that the Administration continue to address both the dire consequences and root causes of the conflict.
Therefore, we urge you to cosponsor the Sudan Peace, Security, and Accountability Act of 2013.
The Act seeks to address the issues in Sudan by requiring the United States to:
- Create a strategy focused on all of Sudan;
- Demand free and unfettered access for international humanitarian aid to all parts of Sudan and take steps to mitigate the lack of such humanitarian aid;
- Promote free and transparent democratic reform in Sudan;
- Increase engagement with other stakeholders who have influence over the Sudanese government in Khartoum, such as the African Union, Arab League, and China;
- Create a broad-based sanctions regime to target governments and individuals whose support assists the Sudanese government in committing serious human rights abuses; and
- Seek more effective enforcement of existing sanctions including adequate resources and personnel and extending to all of Sudan existing sanctions regimes included in prior enacted legislation that were specific only for “Darfur”;
- Provide genuine accountability for crimes committed in Darfur and encourage other countries to expand international accountability efforts to include crimes committed in other regions of Sudan.
In the first months of 2013 alone, some 200,000 people have been displaced by violence in Darfur. In South Kordofan and Blue Nile indiscriminate aerial bombardment of civilians continues having disrupted the crucial planting season even as the Government of Sudan continues to use food as a weapon by denying humanitarian access to those most affected. At the beginning of 2013, the United Nations
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated that some 900,000 Sudanese people are in need of humanitarian aid in South Kordofan and Blue Nile and in neighboring countries where they have sought refuge, describing their situation as bleak and urgent. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir – wanted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Darfur – continues to oversee abuses that the United Nations and other independent monitors have documented and declared “may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
As the overall situation in Sudan continues to deteriorate, it is imperative that the United States increase pressure on the government to end violence and allow unfettered access for humanitarian aid. The Sudan Peace, Security and Accountability Act is essential to creating a plan that addresses both the ongoing violence and root causes of conflict in Sudan.
We hope that you will help to relieve suffering and promote peace in Sudan by co-sponsoring the Sudan Peace, Security and Accountability Act of 2013.
American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan
American Jewish World Service
American Jewish Committee
Darfur Interfaith Network
Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
and United Church of Christ
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Jewish World Watch
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
National Association of Evangelicals
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Union for Reform Judaism
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society