Lawmakers plead with White House for pressure on Sudan

A group of 120 House lawmakers pleaded with the Obama administration to keep up the pressure on the harsh practices of the government of Sudan, even as the headlines about the African nation have fallen away.

“Public and media attention may have waned, but the suffering of civilians has not,” the bipartisan group of lawmakers claimed in a letter sent to the White House on Wednesday pushing for more aggressive action.  

ADVERTISEMENT

“We urge you to enhance the U.S. approach to this conflict, and re-prioritize peace, accountability, and protection of civilians in Sudan in your last year in office.”

Violence in regions of Sudan such as Darfur has gone on for more than a decade, and millions of people are in need of food, medicine or other assistance. The government led by President Omar al-Bashir has been accused of bombing civilians and blocking access to international aid.

Bashir himself is wanted for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court, yet he continues to travel abroad with “near impunity,” the lawmakers claimed on Wednesday.

“The lack of accountability has emboldened the government of Sudan,” they claimed. “Despite the documented uptick in violence and displacement the government of Sudan has announced plans for dismantling displacement camps and has been demanding the removal of U.N. peacekeepers.”

Sudan is one of just three countries listed by the U.S. as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Wednesday’s letter was organized the leaders of the congressional human rights commission and the caucus for Sudan and South Sudan issues: Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), Jeff FortenberryJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FortenberryTrump approves Nebraska disaster declaration Nebraska lawmakers urge Trump to approve disaster funding 
College professor accused of vandalizing Nebraska GOP lawmaker's campaign signs MORE (R-Neb.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.).

Among other measures, they pressed Obama to “enhance” sanctions against Sudan to target high-ranking officials and financial institution that have allowed for the violence to continue.

The U.S. should also apply pressure on Arab countries that deal with Sudan, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, “to turn off the spigot until true reform and change occurs on the ground.”

And companies dealing in gold from Sudan should be penalized, they claimed, since the metal’s sale is used to support the regime.  

“The United States can make a difference in Sudan by making it more difficult for the regime to continue to wage war against its own population,” lawmakers insisted. “With sustained urgent attention and multilateral efforts, the United States can significantly contribute toward peace, accountability, and protection of civilians in Sudan.”