Earlier this week, United to End Genocide joined American Jewish World Service, Enough Project, Jewish World Watch, Humanity United, The Institute on Religion and Public Policy, and Investors Against Genocide in urging members of the United States Senate to fully support international affairs funding. The letter focused on the current challenges facing Sudan and the need to ensure adequate resources are available for humanitarian aid, development assistance, economic support, and peacekeeping funding. The text of the letter is included below.
As organizations concerned about the ongoing violence and worsening humanitarian situation in Sudan, we urge Congress to vote against any amendments that would further reduce international affairs funding. Funding provided through the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2012, for such programs as refugee assistance and peacekeeping, is critical to saving lives in Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile and other areas of Sudan where civilians are now at risk. Additionally, this funding supports peace and good governance in the newly-independent South Sudan where the United States has invested significant resources toward advancing freedom and democracy. As a newly independent nation, South Sudan remains in a fragile condition in its transition, and cuts in funding that support this new country could lead to greater internal and regional instability.
Moreover, Sudan is facing a new emergency of potentially catastrophic proportions. According to UNHCR, since the beginning of September, the steady number of refugees from the Nuba Mountains fleeing the fighting in South Kordofan has surged from about 100 a day in August to about 500 people a day in September. It is reported that there are now more than 130,000 refugees from Sudan in South Sudan, while another 28,000 have recently fled from Blue Nile into Ethiopia. There are reports of ongoing aerial bombings in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. Furthermore, by attacking the people of South Kordofan during their harvest season and blocking access to humanitarian aid, the Government of Sudan is effectively using food as a weapon of war, with a possible famine now looming.
In Darfur, the Sudanese government has increased aerial bombardments, displacing over 115,000 people since December 2010. Large areas of Darfur remain inaccessible to relief agencies. Reporting and verification of violence has become impossible because much of the area is cut off from humanitarians and even peacekeepers.
Any reductions in State and Foreign Operations funding will inevitably affect programs that are critical to addressing the enormous needs in Sudan. These programs should be restored across the board and we are particularly concerned about cuts to this funding as it relates to Sudan and the surrounding region. Cuts to humanitarian aid, development assistance, economic support, and peacekeeping funding will weaken U.S. leadership and continue to exacerbate an already worsening situation on the ground.
Reductions to State and Foreign Operations funding run counter to the United States’ commitment to peace in the region and would put U.S. interests at risk during a critical time when violence is on the rise throughout Sudan and humanitarian aid agencies are predicting a food emergency. Therefore, we strongly oppose funding cuts to the State and Foreign Operations bill. Given the critical nature of this funding, we urge all Members of Congress to vote against any amendments to reduce or eliminate funding.