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Public Statements

Too Silent on Sudan

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, once again, the world is standing by, silent and passive, while the Government of Sudan wages war on its own people.

We have been here before when hundreds of thousands of people perished in Darfur before the international community finally woke up and took action to try to protect innocent civilians from their own government's brutality. The humanitarian crisis continues in Darfur. There is no peace, and villagers, refugees, and humanitarian personnel still live and work under the constant peril of attack. President Bashir has expelled many humanitarian workers from Darfur--and even today, threatens to shut down their lifesaving operations.

Last May, we witnessed the ruthless ethnic cleansing of Abyei by the Sudanese people. More than 100,000 people of the Dinka indigenous population were forcibly displaced. They fled to South Sudan, seeking safe haven, where they remain today in very, very poor conditions. When Sudanese President Bashir saw that the world was indifferent to this brutal assault, he began military operations in June against insurgents in South Kordofan and, more generally, against the Nuba people.

And still the world stood silent.

So, in September, Khartoum launched attacks on another border region. This time, the state of Blue Nile was under siege with attacks by the Sudanese Army and the bombings of civilians. Thousands fled to the neighboring countries of Ethiopia and South Sudan for safety, joining the desperate refugees from South Kordofan.

So Sudan has undertaken a bloodbath against its own people in the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile--house-to-house arrests and killings, rape, the merciless bombings of civilians.

For nearly 8 months, Khartoum has blocked all humanitarian aid to South Kordofan and Blue Nile. It has not only continued to bomb in those states, but it has crossed the border and has bombed refugee camps and towns inside South Sudan, where tens of thousands had hoped to find food and shelter.

Here are some photos of some people in refugee camps in South Sudan:

Saleh Kora is from the Angolo tribe in South Kordofan. The government dropped bombs on her fields when she was trying to plant. Then the government dropped six bombs on her village. This poor woman here grabbed her children and hid in a nearby ditch. After the bombings stopped, Sudanese soldiers moved into the village and burned several homes. When they began shooting people, Saleh ran and hid with her children. The soldiers didn't care if you were an unarmed civilian, a woman or a child. She fled with her children across the border in January to the Yida refugee camp in South Sudan.

This woman over here to my far right and her little girl are from the Nuba Mountains. She is married to a man who fled the nightmare of Darfur in 2005. Both were suffering from malnutrition when they arrived at the refugee camps.

The people of South Kordofan and Blue Nile are being subjected to bombings, murder, rape, scorched earth, and starvation. This should come as no surprise when Ahmed Haroun, the Sudanese official wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity in Darfur, is now the governor of South Kordofan.

Mr. Speaker, we are fast approaching the month of March, the point at which the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, or FEWS NET, has predicted that South Kordofan and Blue Nile will reach emergency levels of food insecurity. This is just one level short of all-out famine. Yet Khartoum still denies food and medical relief to the suffering people of these regions.

Last week, the United Nations Security Council called on the Sudanese Government and the armed rebels to allow unhindered access for humanitarian aid and for both sides to return to talks and to cease hostilities.

President Bashir said ``no.'' The United States and the international community, including China, Russia, and others, must increase the pressure on Sudan to allow the delivery of aid to the suffering people of South Kordofan and the Blue Nile, and to reach agreement on a cease-fire. The safety and security of the Sudanese people, whether in Darfur, Abyei, South Kordofan, Blue Nile, or elsewhere, must be our first priority.

Mr. Speaker, we have been silent for too long.

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