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Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2005 - Continued

Location: Washington DC

Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, I have an amendment at the desk.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report.
The legislative clerk read as follows:
The Senator from Ohio [Mr. DeWine] proposes an amendment numbered 3493.
Mr. DeWine. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that further reading of the amendment be dispensed with.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, Monday, I came to the floor to outline what we needed to see accomplished in Darfur, Sudan, where tens of thousands have died, hundreds of thousands are currently in peril, and millions more have lost their homes and their livelihoods. My last speech focused on what the government of Sudan needed to do. Today I want to focus on what we need to do, what the U.S. Government and the American people need to do.

Today, I am offering an amendment to the fiscal year 2005 Department of Defense appropriations bill, together with Senators Leahy, Brownback, Alexander, Frist, and McCain. This critical amendment will provide $95 million in emergency funding to help address the current crisis in Darfur and eastern Chad. The House included the same $95 million in their bill this past Tuesday, and I hope we will do the same.

Specifically, the amendment would add $70 million to USAID's International Disaster and Famine Assistance programs in Darfur, as well as $25 million to the Department of State for refugee assistance in eastern Chad. This type of crisis is exactly why we created these accounts. Now we need to use them.

Mr. President, we simply need to do this. Ten years ago, we failed to act when close to a million people were slaughtered in Rwanda. We cannot go back now and change that, much as we would like to. But we can do something different today. What is occurring today is genocide. Hundreds of thousands of people are dying, and we can prevent it. To ignore this crisis would be a tragic mistake. To deny this funding would be to deny children the right to live and people the right to survive. We are not responsible for the genocide, but we will be responsible if we do not do something today to prevent these people, these children, men and women, from dying.

Many times, we come to the floor and talk about emergencies. Sometimes the word is almost debased. But if ever there was an emergency, this truly is an emergency. This truly is a crisis.

If this situation weren't so serious, we could wait and offer this amendment to another bill. Members of the Senate, time does not allow us to do that. Time is not on our side. Using this bill as the vehicle will make the emergency funding available as soon as we pass it, and it is signed into law. That is why we must act on this bill.

Every major humanitarian organization in the world has recognized Darfur as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. But a quote by the U.N. World Food Program Deputy Director in Chad captures it best:

There will be a tragedy if nothing happens. I don't think any of the children under the age of 5 will make it [if nothing happens], and the pregnant women, too. For those who are under 5, there is no chance. They will simply die from starvation.

The U.S. Agency for International Development is also increasing their mortality figures, their estimates. They now say their original estimate that at least 350,000 people could die of disease and malnutrition over the next 9 months is conservative. That is because the violence that started all of this has not stopped, and because the conditions those individuals are facing are getting worse with the oncoming rains. Hundreds of thousands are now in shantytowns around the regional capitals or in refugee camps in eastern Chad. The conditions are quickly deteriorating because aid groups simply cannot accommodate the large numbers. The United States is currently meeting about 25 percent of the food needs. But that means that 75 percent of the food needs are not being met; 75 percent of the people face starvation.

Malnutrition and disease are our biggest enemies in a crisis such as this. The polio epidemic hitting Africa has spread to Darfur, and only 50 percent of the children are immunized. The race against the clock is well underway and we need to make sure that USAID and the State Department have the money they need to respond, and respond now. I have no doubt in my mind that the long-term needs in Darfur and eastern Chad exceed what this amendment calls for, but for now at least this will allow our aid agencies to begin to meet their immediate needs this year. The children cannot wait and, therefore, we cannot delay these funds any longer.

That is why I join my colleagues and ask my colleagues to join me in pressing, also, for a U.N. security resolution authorizing peacekeeping troops to monitor the cease-fire in Darfur and ensure, by force if necessary, that humanitarian aid is not obstructed. According to the U.S. Ambassador to Sudan, there is no evidence yet that the Government of Sudan is serious about addressing the militias which have caused so much of this problem. If the Government of Sudan refuses to address the ethnic cleansing that we have seen, then we should make sure the United States will.

Senator Durbin and I have a letter that we are now circulating that we will send to Secretary Powell. This letter addresses this issue, and I invite my colleagues to sign this letter.

Finally, I want to alert my colleagues to another crisis that is beginning to emerge in Africa. We do not have time today to speak in detail about it, but we should watch for this crisis because we will have to address this crisis as well, and the world needs to address this crisis, and that is the crisis in the Congo.

Militant groups who escaped from Rwanda after the genocide there are now destabilizing the Congo. Mr. President, 3.3 million people are without humanitarian aid.

If we do not pay attention to the Congo, then the Congo is, in a short period of time, going to also look like Darfur, and we will have failed again and the world will have failed again.

The world must pay attention. We must learn to stop these events before they become crises. That is why our response to Darfur today in this amendment is so important. We need to set the precedent that we failed to set in Rwanda: that the U.S. Government will be watching for ethnic cleansing and genocide, and no matter where it is found, we will respond, and those responsible will be held accountable.

We simply cannot tolerate crimes against humanity, and we must speak out. If we fail in this effort, we doom not only the people of Darfur but the victims of future conflicts as well. We need to make "never again" a promise of the U.S. Government that is enforced by our actions. I, therefore, urge my colleagues to support this amendment and continue to call attention to what is happening in Darfur.

I yield the floor.

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