Four senators will today introduce a sense-of-the-Senate resolution demanding the government of Sudan allow immediate and unrestricted humanitarian access to the Blue Nile and South Kordofan regions where hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of starvation. The bipartisan resolution was led by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
Conflict between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement -- North (SPLM-N) has been ongoing since 2011 in two of Sudan's border states. According to the Famine Early Warning Network more than 250,000 people in this region will face emergency food shortages in the next three months unless aid is allowed to reach them. The Sudanese government has refused repeated requests by the United States, the United Nations, the African Union, the League of Arab States, non-governmental organizations, and others to allow humanitarian access to the conflict areas.
The resolution to be introduced Wednesday urges the government of Sudan to allow "immediate and unrestricted humanitarian access to South Kordofan, Blue Nile and all other conflict-affected areas of Sudan," and implores Sudan and the SPLM-N to cease hostilities and negotiate a peaceful end to the conflict. The resolution also urges the government of Sudan and the SPLM-N to allow civilians to leave the region voluntarily, and offers support for ongoing efforts by the Obama Administration and international partners to facilitate humanitarian access to affected areas and encourage a return to negotiations.
"We are on the brink of another major humanitarian crisis in Sudan," Senator Coons said. "As the devastating impact of ongoing conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile continues to unfold before our eyes, the Sudanese government is denying the international community the ability to provide desperately-needed humanitarian aid and supplies. If the Sudanese government does not back down, innocent men, women and children will starve to death. If they allow humanitarian access to the conflict regions, we can save lives." Senator Coons is chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs.
"It is crucial that humanitarian aid is allowed into these devastated areas and that the Government of Sudan and SPLM-N end hostilities immediately," Senator Isakson said. "Once again, civilians are suffering the overwhelming burden of violence in Sudan, and I join my colleagues in calling for a sustained effort toward achieving a lasting peace in the region." Senator Isakson is ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs.
"Despite overwhelming calls for action, the Sudanese government continues to brutalize people in the border region and thumb its nose at the international community," Senator Durbin said. "Congress needs to do all that it can to put a stop the violence and work to clear a path for humanitarian aid to reach those in desperate need. Millions of people have waited far too long for action." Senator Durbin is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs.
"The longer the violence continues in Sudan, the harder it will be to move forward toward lasting peace," Senator Wicker said. "I urge my colleagues and the international community to keep the dignity of human life at the forefront of our conversations about Sudan and South Sudan. The promise of freedom must be put into practice. The call for hostilities to end and for responsible dialogue to resume is even more urgent now."
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