Sudan

Sudan: NCC and NGO's in U.S., U.K. and France urge UN Resolution on Darfur

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WASHINGTON, July 22, 2005 -- Leading non-governmental organizations in the United States, France and Great Britain are urging their countries to immediately sponsor a United Nations Security Council resolution that will mandate peace enforcement operations in Darfur, Sudan.

"This joint declaration is important because it recognizes the influence that the US, the UK and France can have in urging the international community to get involved in stopping the genocide in Darfur," said Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, Associate General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA for International Affairs and Peace.

Estimates for Darfuri Africans killed since February 2003, range from 180,000 to 400,000. Over 2.5 million have been displaced and remain at mortal risk today, facing continued violence, malnutrition and disease.

"Specific steps need to be taken, and one is to get all of the Security Council members to act on behalf of the victims in Darfur," Kireopoulos said. "Peacekeeping forces are needed to protect the civilians in this crisis, and only a concerted effort by those who have influence can actually make it happen."

"As three of the permanent five members, the governments of the USA, France and the United Kingdom have significant influence at the UN Security Council," declares the joint statement issued July 21 by the Save Darfur Coalition (U.S.), of which the NCC is a member; Collectif Urgence Darfour (France); and Protect Darfur (U.K.).

"We therefore call on our governments to show leadership and immediately sponsor a resolution at the UN Security Council that will mandate peace enforcement operations in Darfur," the statement continues. "Action now, though two years into the genocidal crisis, will go down in history to their credit. Failure to act, however, would go down in history to their shame -- and rank alongside the failure of previous governments to prevent mass murder in Bosnia and genocide in Rwanda. Now is the time to show that lessons have been learned, not by words alone but by actions."

Organizers of the effort hope to spur the UN Security Council to act.

"It is imperative that the UN Security Council give a mandate, through a new resolution, for the protection of Darfur's African population through peace enforcement in Darfur," the statement says. "The Government of Sudan bears primary responsibility for their protection, but has failed to provide it. As a matter of urgency, this must now become an international responsibility."

The National Council of Churches USA and its partners in the Save Darfur Coalition are seeking specific outcomes to alleviate the situation in Darfur, Kireopoulos explained.

"The coalition is seeking the expansion of the African Union's mandate, and thus increase the number of African Union forces, to protect civilians," Kireopoulos said. "The U.S. effort is critical to influencing this outcome. American, British and French support is critical for the UN Security Council resolution."

The coalition is also seeking the appointment of a U.S. special independent envoy to work on this issue and is calling upon President Bush to emphasize the issue in his public statements.

The coalition is also seeking the imposition of various measures to ensure Sudanese cooperation in ending the genocide, such as travel and asset sanctions, and logistical support for the African Union, Kireopoulos noted.

The full text of the NGO statement is below.

Joint call on US, UK and France to sponsor a resolution for peace enforcement in Darfur

It is imperative that the UN Security Council give a mandate, through a new resolution, for the protection of Darfur's African population through peace enforcement in Darfur. The Government of Sudan bears primary responsibility for their protection, but has failed to provide it. As a matter of urgency, this must now become an international responsibility.

The African Union's great effort in Darfur is constrained by its mandate, which it is reluctant to extend. Even if the AU had many more troops in Darfur, the Janjaweed militia would need to be neutralized before people can return home safely to plant their crops. The UN Security Council can help the African Union by providing a broad mandate which will allow it to enforce the peace.

As three of the permanent five members, the governments of the USA, France and the United Kingdom have significant influence at the UN Security Council. Our governments are also all party to the Stockholm Declaration 2004, which commits its signatories to 'protect groups identified as potential victims of genocide, mass murder and ethnic cleansing.'

We therefore call on our governments to show leadership and immediately sponsor a resolution at the UN Security Council that will mandate peace enforcement operations in Darfur. Action now, though two years into the genocidal crisis, will go down in history to their credit. Failure to act, however, would go down in history to their shame -- and rank alongside the failure of previous governments to prevent mass murder in Bosnia and genocide in Rwanda. Now is the time to show that lessons have been learned, not by words alone but by actions.

The National Council of Churches is composed of 36 Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, historic African American and peace communions representing 45 million Christians in 100,000 local congregations in the United States.

Collectif Urgence Darfour was created in February 2005 to initiate a Darfur Campaign as the plight of the Darfur people had been completely ignored so far by French public opinion. It now includes over 80 organizations. It has launched a Call for Action supported by a large number of leading personalities, scholars, humanitarian activists, singers, actors and politicians. A big public Meeting took place in Paris on April 21st and a Rally was organized on May 15th outside Sudan embassy.

Protect Darfur is a campaign coordinated by the Aegis Trust, which addresses causes and consequences of genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2000, Aegis developed from the work of the UK Holocaust Centre (opened 1995). It is also responsible for the Kigali Memorial Centre in Rwanda (opened 2004). It works closely with survivors, educationalists, academics and policy makers in areas relating to genocide education, research and prevention.

The Save Darfur Coalition is an alliance of over 130 faith-based, humanitarian and human rights organizations. Its mission is to raise public awareness and to mobilize an effective unified response to the atrocities that threaten the lives of 2.5 million people in the Darfur region.

For more information please visit www.SaveDarfur.org or call Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications at 202-265-3000.

Also contact NCC News: Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2252; Leslie Tune, 202-544-2350