A senior bipartisan Congressional delegation led by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spent the last seven days paying official visits to five African nations, including the Darfur region of Sudan.
The Pelosi delegation, which included Representatives James E. Clyburn (D-SC), Chairman of the Democratic Caucus, Melvin Watt (D-NC), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, George Miller (D-CA), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Michael Capuano (D-MA), Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Joe Wilson (R-SC) issued the following statement this morning [Friday] as they prepared to return to the United States:
The main purposes of our visit to Africa were to see firsthand the horrific conditions in Darfur, to assess the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and to consult with heads of state in the region about the crisis which the United States has characterized as genocide.
“We are convinced that action must be taken quickly to bring security and hope to Darfur. The African Union military force in Darfur is doing a great job. However, as President Bush has said, to secure and stabilize Darfur, the African Union force must be doubled and international organizations like the U.N. and NATO should play a coordinating role.
“The African presidents we met agreed that the Darfur crisis should be resolved through negotiation, but that more troops are needed to end the violence while negotiations take place. The United States must play a leadership role in ensuring that a force of sufficient size to provide security is assembled rapidly. The leadership of that force must reflect the experience already gained in Darfur by senior military personnel of the African Union.
“Additional humanitarian assistance is required as well. The government of Sudan has done nothing to assist its own people in Darfur. Sudanese 2nd Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, with whom we met, admitted that the Sudanese government has directly supported the Janjaweed militia, which is responsible for most of the violence against civilians in Darfur.
“As the world responds to the suffering in Darfur, the Sudanese government must live up to its responsibilities to bring about a true cease-fire that protects civilians. The needs of the people of Darfur must be addressed, and the government of Sudan cannot be allowed to continue to shirk its responsibility to protect its people and provide for their needs.
“We all went to Darfur with a sense of deep concern and we all left with a sense of outrage and urgency. We are committed to working with President Bush to make sure the world community quickly does what needs to be done to end the genocide in Darfur.”