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Issue Position: What Can Be Done to Protect Civilians in Darfur?

Issue Position

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"I support passage of the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act (H.R. 3127). We have a moral obligation to put pressure on the Sudanese government to stop the slaughter and to support the International Criminal Court in prosecuting those responsible. Our nation, as a humanitarian world leader, must insist on the protection of the destitute and the displaced and there must the leader in humanitarian and peacekeeping aid to end this disaster." - Yvette Clarke

The most urgent need is for a much more powerful, well-equipped international force in Darfur. The African Union force (AMIS) has managed to improve security in certain places where they deployed, but none of the warring parties are respecting the ceasefire and the Sudanese government continues to support the abusive Janjaweed, rather than disarming them. AMIS lacks the numbers of troops and the kind of equipment needed to

A U.N. force would be larger, better equipped and more financially stable than the current AU force, since it could draw on global personnel, capacity and on UN financing. The current African Union forces would probably be absorbed into a UN force.

The U.N. force must have the strongest possible mandate to protect civilians, under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, and the international community must continue to pressure the Sudanese government to end its abusive policies in Darfur. Until a U.N. force comes in during the next six to nine months, the African Union must be bolstered with funds, equipment and other support. Our nation, as a humanitarian world leader, must insist on the protection of the destitute and the displaced and there must be appropriate humanitarian and peacekeeping aid as well.

What has happened in Darfur? Between 2003 and 2005, the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed militias burned and destroyed hundreds of rural villages, killed tens of thousands of people and raped and assaulted thousands of women and girls. The government's campaign forced more than two million Darfurians from their homes. As of 2006, some 1.8 million live in camps in Darfur and approximately 220,000 have fled into Chad, where they live in refugee camps. In addition to the people displaced by the conflict, at least 1.5 million other people need some form of food assistance because the conflict has destroyed the local economy, markets and trade in Darfur.

What is happening in Darfur now? In early 2005, the number of government attacks on civilians dropped, partly because the vast majority of rural villages were already destroyed and their inhabitants displaced from the rural areas. As of 2006, however, the situation has dramatically worsened and the fighting has increased. Janjaweed forces with Chadian rebels are conducting attacks over the border into Chad. Janjaweed militias are also continuing to attack civilians and humanitarian aid workers, and are even attacking the camps for internally displaced in Darfur.

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