Sudanese Conflict Topic of House Panel
US Special Envoy, Human Rights Groups, Terrorism Expert Testify on Sudan & South Sudan
The need for a more broad, unified and proactive U.S. government policy that can advance the long-term goals of peace and sovereignty for the peoples of Sudan and South Sudan are facing was the topic of a hearing held Wednesday by Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04), Chairman of the House congressional panel that oversees U.S. policy in Africa.
“South Sudan continues to be engaged in a conflict that began last December, despite a cessation of hostilities agreement,” Smith said. “Thousands have been killed and tens of thousands have been displaced. Exact figures are constantly shifting because this conflict continues. This conflict also is the result of too little attention paid to the warning signs because of preoccupation with one of the many crises in the two Sudans. We must develop, support and implement policies toward Sudan and South Sudan that make sense in the long-term, and not just produce temporarily satisfying peace accords that have no sustainability. Peace and prosperity for both countries are linked, and we must act accordingly. We must end this cycle of myopic policy formulation based on the crisis of the moment and adopt a long-term, holistic vision of what the best interest of the people of Sudan and South Sudan demands – indeed, what would be in the best interest of the entire region.” Click here to read Chairman Smith’s opening statement.
The hearing, “U.S. Policy Toward Sudan and South Sudan,” was held before the House Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations Subcommittee. It featured lead witness Donald Booth, Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, U.S. State Department.
“This hearing comes at a tumultuous time for both Sudan and South Sudan,” Booth said. “South Sudan continues to be mired in a devastating internal conflict that, while relatively recent in its emergence, has already caused widespread death and destruction, and threatens to unravel the social fabric of this young nation.” Click here to read the Special Envoy’s opening remarks.
Other witnesses included, John Prendergast, Co-founder, the Enough Project; Dr. Walid Phares, Co-Secretary General , Transatlantic Legislative Group on Counter Terrorism; and Adotei Akwei, Managing Director for Government Relations, Amnesty International USA. Click on their names above to read their testimonies.
“The biggest threat to the people of Sudan and South Sudan are raging civil wars within their own countries,” said Prendergast. “Mass atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed in the context of wars in both countries. Although the headlines for the last two months have been dominated by conflagration in South Sudan, conditions in Sudan’s Darfur region have deteriorated, and government’s bombing campaigns have intensified in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. The potential for a complete interruption in oil production threatens economies in both countries with implosion and bankruptcy. Conflict has interrupted the planting season, and with the rainy season fast approaching, humanitarian crises are spiraling out of control in both countries.”
“Amnesty International USA I would like to thank the subcommittee for this opportunity to testify. Chairman Smith your continued efforts to improve the respect and protection of human rights in Africa and around the world are well known and continue to be an inspiration to all of us,” said Akwei. “The situation in Sudan remains critical. Over two years after the secession of South Sudan, armed conflict continues to devastate large parts of Darfur, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile. The government has continued to repress fundamental rights and freedoms including through widespread arbitrary detention of perceived opponents and stifling independent media and civil society.”
Phares pointed out that said South Sudan is the newest country in the world, a republic whose people have suffered genocide at the hands of a Jihadist regime and whose future was promising because of natural resources and internal unity against the terror inclinations of the north.
“On a strategic level, the destruction of South Sudan is detrimental to peace in the region and to the national security interests of the United States. This country is an ally in the war against the terrorists; its forces have had the longest experience in resisting the Jihadi forces and, as a young African country, it was poised to become a voice of moderation and democracy in the area linking the Sahel to the Horn of Africa,” Phares said. “It is unfortunate that the United States administration did little on diplomatic and political levels to pressure the two factions inside South Sudan into a cessation of hostilities and a reunification of the country. While envoys were dispatched to the region and to both North and South Sudan and talks have been generated, the treatment of such a crisis needs direct involvement of the President of the United States personally.”