Darfur Fast for Life

We fast in solidarity with the hungry and starving in Darfur and for lasting peace in Sudan
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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – Remarks on Darfur

May 21, 2009 By: Katie-Jay Category: Congress Fast

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

Remarks on Darfur

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I met briefly this week with the actress and activist Mia Farrow, who has dedicated so much time lately – and even put her own health at risk – to raise awareness of the atrocities in Darfur.

Like Ms. Farrow, my good friend Pam Omidyar – the Founder and Chair of the Board of Humanity United – has also fasted for more than a month in solidarity with the Darfurian refugees.

Mia Farrow and Pam Omidyar enjoy liberty and wealth. They do not need to do this. But through their actions, they both so generously speak for those the world ignores.

The terrible situation in Darfur deteriorates with each passing day. But we don’t hear much about it. It has long since faded from the front pages in the face of everything else going on in our economy and the two wars we wage in the Middle East.

We cannot ignore this crisis. The United States has officially and appropriately recognized that what is happening in Darfur is genocide. For the more than 2.4 million people who have been displaced against their will, we cannot look the other way and cannot stand idly by.

Most of the people of Darfur depend on international aid to survive day-to-day. The United Nations has agreed to send 26,000 peacekeepers to Darfur, but they face an uphill fight – they have struggled to get the resources they need to ensure the safety of those who live in Darfur and to end this crisis.

Making matters worse, when the International Criminal Court recently issued a warrant to arrest the President of Sudan – President Bashir – for war crimes and crimes against humanity, he responded by expelling 13 non-governmental organizations that had been distributing food and medicine to the people in Darfur.

Because of its economic investments, China has unique leverage with Sudan. It is important that China uses that influence to help the people of Darfur.

I appreciate the work of Major General Jonathan Scott Gration – the President’s special envoy to Sudan – but we must do more to put Darfur at the forefront of our foreign-policy agenda. And we must be clear about our objectives.

The Sudanese government has repeatedly proven untrustworthy at the negotiating table. As the administration and our special envoy develop a new policy, we must consider how we can get Khartoum to change its behavior.

There have been too many people in too many camps for too many years – and the world has been silent for far too long.

We have no excuse do anything short of all we can do to ensure aid groups are on the ground in Darfur, and that they can do their jobs – to ensure a political process is in place, and that it can work – and to help save the lives of millions.

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