Statement from Barack Obama on Darfur, Sudan

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Statement on Darfur, Sudan  (2004) 
by Barack Obama

"Genocide is underway in Darfur, Sudan. Already, 50,000 African Muslims have been killed and 1.2 million displaced by the Sudanese Government and by Arab Janjaweed militias armed and encouraged by Khartoum. The Bush Administration itself warned of the magnitude of the crisis, if no action is taken. Andrew Natsios, head of USAID, said in June that "if nothing changes we will have one million casualties." We cannot, in good conscience, stand by and let this genocide continue.

"A July 30th UN Security Council resolution threatened the Sudanese government with possible punitive measures if there were not significant progress in protecting people and curbing the violence. Secretary General Annan's follow-up report to the UN Security Council last week makes plain that Sudan has failed to meet its commitment to rein in these militias. According to the report, "No concrete steps have been taken to bring to justice or even identify any of the militia leaders or perpetrators of these attacks, allowing the violations of human rights and the basic laws of war to continue in a climate of impunity.

"The international community has failed to do enough. The United Nations passed a toothless resolution and, in recent debates, China, Russia, Pakistan and Algeria have been reluctant to support any meaningful action. The UN is failing in its mission by allowing politics to get in the way of needed action. American leadership is needed to mobilize European support and force action. On the 10th anniversary of Rwandan atrocities, we must not let history repeat itself.

"There must be real pressure placed on the Sudanese government. We know from past experience that it will take a great deal to get them to do the right thing. The United States, along with the UN, must take immediate steps to halt this dire situation.

"First, the UN Security Council should impose tough sanctions on the Khartoum government immediately. These sanctions should freeze the assets of the Sudanese government, its leaders and business affiliates; outlaw arms sales and transfers to Sudan; and prohibit the purchase of Sudanese oil. The United States must make this a high priority in our relations with other governments on the Security Council.

"Second, the United States should raise the needed funds to ensure that the civilians in Sudan receive life-saving humanitarian assistance. The situation is deteriorating rapidly and we should lead in contributing the lion's share of these funds so that we can convince others to give their fair share as well.

"Next, the United States should support the immediate deployment of an effective international force to disarm militia, protect civilians and facilitate delivery of humanitarian assistance in Darfur. Thus far, the African Union has offered 3,000 troops and the United Kingdom has indicated that they would offer some troops. However, international pressure is required for the Sudan regime to accept an international peacekeeping force. The U.S. must ensure humanitarian intervention with or without Sudanese government permission. And, we should urge European governments who are not willing to send troops to Iraq to take on this mission.

"There is no question that the United States military is currently spread thin with our earlier commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq. But, that does not mean that we should not be providing the resources that we can, including logistical support like airplanes, helicopters, trucks, and other resources that are needed to deliver humanitarian aid.

This should be a swift and clear-cut decision. It is not only an issue of saving lives in the Sudan. It is necessary to support our interests in the region. And, our action and leadership will show who we are as a nation and as a people."