July 30, 2008
Washington, D.C. -- The House of Representatives today unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution sponsored by Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH) condemning the fatal attacks on United Nations-African Union peacekeepers in the Darfur region of Sudan.
“The lack of international support for this mission and the opposition that it faces in the region has and continues to compromise the ability of UNAMID peacekeepers to secure the region -- not only leaving the Darfuri people vulnerable to continued attacks but now also the peacekeepers assigned to protect them,” Chabot said on the floor of the House.
The resolution (H. Res. 1351) condemns, in the strongest terms, a July 8th attack on the UN-AU peacekeepers and expresses condolences to the families of those killed and wounded. It also expresses a commitment to the refugees in Darfur and calls upon the Sudanese government to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice. In addition, the resolution expresses support for the UN-AU peacekeepers and the UNAMID mission and calls upon the international community to contribute the resources necessary to ensure the success of the mission.
Chabot’s resolution was amended last week in the Foreign Affairs Committee to include language that urges the international community to provide the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur with essential tactical and utility helicopters. The amendment was taken from H. Res. 1245, a resolution cosponsored by Congressman Chabot and authored by Congressman Mike Capuano (D-MA).
Last August, Congressman Chabot traveled to Darfur to assess the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Sudan and view the refugee camps. While there, he met with a number of officials to encourage area governments to work toward resolving the conflict in Sudan and bring peace and stability to the region.
Read Congressman Chabot’s Full Statement Below:
“Thank you Madame Speaker, I rise in strong support for H.Res.1351. I would like to thank the distinguished gentleman from Massachusetts, Congressman Capuano, for his work on this important resolution. I would also like to thank the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee for their support.
“Each day that passes without the full support of the international community for the UN’s peacekeeping mission in Darfur is another day that these innocent people, and now the peacekeepers assigned to protect them, have to live in fear.
“Last year, I had the opportunity to travel to Darfur with Congresswoman Jackson-Lee and Congressman Adrian Smith to witness first-hand the devastation in the region. The refugees with whom we met described harrowing experiences of escape from the Janjaweed and the Sudanese government - descriptions that I will never forget.
“The trip came in the weeks following the unanimous decision by the United Nations Security Council to deploy more than 26,000 peacekeepers to the region.
“Yet, progress in Darfur has been jeopardized as H.Res. 1351 points out. Almost a year since Security Resolution 1769 passed, the mission lacks more than 16,000 troops and police officers, as well as essential communications equipment and utility and tactical helicopters - all of which are critical to the mission’s success.
“The skeleton mission has been met with constant opposition from the Sudanese government, which has thwarted it at every step, refusing to cooperate on the composition of the hybrid force, refusing to authorize night flights, refusing to issue visas for necessary staff, or to provide access to certain areas.
“The lack of international support for the mission and the opposition that it faces in the region has and continues to compromise the ability of UNAMID peacekeepers to secure the region -- not only leaving the Darfuri people vulnerable to continued attacks but now also the peacekeepers assigned to protect them. On July 8, 2008, the world witnessed the deadliest attack yet on the peacekeeping mission, which resulted in seven deaths and more than 22 wounded. On July 16th, another peacekeeper from Nigeria was attacked and killed. These attacks come on the heels of pleas from the U.N. that shortages of resources could ‘jeopardize its efforts to stabilize a region.’
“U.N. Member Nations and the rest of the international community cannot sit idly and watch the mission in Darfur fail at the expense of the millions of innocent people who have already survived one genocide.
“I think it is important to note that while the United States is often criticized for not doing enough, $4 billion or 72 percent, of the cost of peacekeeping, development, reconstruction, and humanitarian efforts in Darfur, have been paid for by the United States. It is past time for our European allies and the wealthy Arab countries to assist in the effort.
“I urge my colleagues to support this critical mission by supporting H.Res. 1351.”