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Expressing Support for the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)

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Location: Washington, DC


EXPRESSING SUPPORT FOR THE UNITED NATIONS AFRICAN UNION MISSION IN DARFUR (UNAMID) -- (House of Representatives - July 30, 2008)

Mr. CHABOT. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise in strong support of this resolution, H. Res. 1351. I would like to also thank the distinguished gentleman from California, the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, for his support and his leadership on this, as well as the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Capuano) for his leadership and their hard work in making this resolution possible. I also want to thank Ranking Member ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN from Florida for her support.

Each day that passes without the full support of the international community for the U.N.'s peacekeeping mission in Darfur is another day that these innocent people, and now the peacekeepers assigned to protect them, have to live in fear.

Last year I had the opportunity to travel to Darfur with Congresswoman SHEILA JACKSON-LEE of Texas and Congressman ADRIAN SMITH of Nebraska to witness firsthand the devastation of this region. The refugees with whom we met, mostly women and children in the refugee camps, described harrowing experiences of escape from the Janjaweed and the Sudanese Government. They're descriptions that I will never forget. Many of these women had been raped. Many of their husbands, brothers, sons, and fathers had been brutally murdered.

We met with them in refugee camps in Darfur just weeks following the unanimous decision by the United Nations Security Council to deploy 26,000 peacekeepers to the region. Yet progress in Darfur has been jeopardized, as H. Res. 1351 points out. Almost a year since Security Resolution 1769 passed, the mission lacks more than 16,000 troops and police officers as well as essential communications equipment and helicopters. That's one of the things that they need the most, all of which are critical to the mission's success.

The skeleton mission has been met with continued roadblocks from the Sudanese government which has thwarted it at every step, refusing to cooperate on the composition of the hybrid force, refusing to authorize night flights, refusing to issue visas for necessary staff, or to provide access to certain areas.

The lack of international support for the mission and the opposition that it faces in the region has and continues to compromise the ability of UNAMID peacekeepers to secure the region--not only leaving the Darfuri people vulnerable to continued attacks but now the peacekeepers assigned to protect them.

As the chairman indicated, back on July 8 of this year, this month, a couple of weeks ago, the world witnessed the deadliest attacks yet on our peacekeeping mission which resulted in seven deaths and 22 wounded. On July 16, another peacekeeper from Nigeria was attacked and killed. These attacks come on the heels of pleas from the U.N. that shortages of resources could ``jeopardize its efforts to stabilize the region.'' U.N. member nations and the rest of the international community must not sit idly by and watch the mission in Darfur fail at the expense of the millions of innocent people who have already survived one genocide.

I think it is important to note that while the United States is often criticized for not doing enough, $4 billion or 72 percent--let me repeat that, 72 percent--of the cost of peacekeeping, development, reconstruction, and humanitarian efforts in Darfur have been paid for by the United States. So 72 percent is being funded by the American taxpayers. It is past time for our European allies, and especially the wealthy Arab countries, to assist in this effort.

If we're paying 72 percent, I think you have to consider that we're sending literally hundreds of billions of dollars now to the Middle East, the wealthy oil countries there. And most of the people that have suffered in the Darfur region are Muslims, and the Arab countries have done little or nothing, many of them, despite the fact that we have hundreds of millions of dollars going over there for their oil revenues.

And so, rather than building another expensive hotel or buying another yacht or some other luxury item, some of these dollars ought to be diverted to the poor people in Darfur, perhaps to buy some helicopters so that we can get the U.N. troops in to help these people that have, as I indicated, already survived one genocide and are essentially in the middle of another if the world doesn't act.

So, for those who criticize the United States for doing enough--and yes, we always should do more--remember, we're supporting 72 percent of the effort there. The rest of the world is providing the other 28 percent. And let's urge, to the extent that we're able, those wealthy Arab oil countries to foot a fair portion of the bill to help out in this effort.

And I urge my colleagues to support this critical mission by supporting H. Res. 1351.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. CHABOT. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume to wrap up. I will be brief.

One of the previous resolutions that we had talked about China and the human rights abuses that have occurred, and they're just having the Olympics coming up. And the fact is, it hasn't been mentioned yet in this particular debate, but China has played a particularly unhelpful role, quite frankly, in Darfur and Sudan. They have been very much involved behind the scenes, particularly with respect to oil interests in Darfur and have made it possible for the government in Darfur to continue to flaunt world opinion, who basically has been indicating to the Sudanese Government you need to cooperate here. This is an embarrassment to the whole world, how people in Darfur are being treated. It makes you, the Sudanese Government, look bad; why don't you get with the program, reform, cooperate, and help these people.

Unfortunately, again, China who has considerable influence that it could act upon if it chose to do so, has, in some minor instances, been somewhat helpful but for the most part has failed to step up to the plate and actually put pressure on the Sudanese Government to do something finally about Darfur.

So I would strongly urge, once again, that China, in this particular instance, do the right thing, put pressure on the Sudanese Government to do something to relieve the terrible conditions that the people of Darfur have suffered under, whether it's genocide, whether it's literally starvation in some instances. China, do what's right and help the people of Darfur.

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