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Next Steps for U.S. on Darfur

AFRICA ACTION PRESS RELEASE Contact: Ann-Louise Colgan (202) 546-7961

New Africa Action Report & Sign-On Letter Highlight Next Steps for U.S. on Darfur

Report Advocates “Strategic Diplomacy” from U.S. to Engage Key Countries in New Action; Letter to Natsios Signed by Hundreds of Religious Leaders Urges Protection for Darfur

Thursday, December 14, 2006 (Washington, DC) – Africa Action today released a major new report entitled “Leveraging New International Action on Darfur”, laying out how the U.S. can use strategic diplomacy to engage key actors on Darfur and break the deadlock over the deployment of a United Nations (UN) peacekeeping force to protect civilians. Also today, Africa Action released an open letter to U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Andrew Natsios, signed by hundreds of leaders of religious congregations and denominations from around the country, demanding that the U.S. redouble its efforts to achieve an international peacekeeping force that can stop the violence and protect civilians in Darfur.

The report and the open letter are now available on Africa Action’s website at http://www.africaaction.org/

Nii Akuetteh, Executive Director of Africa Action, said today, “Africa Action’s new report and sign-on letter lay out the next steps on Darfur and urge new action from the U.S. to stop the ongoing genocide. The report reveals what U.S. foreign policy would look like if Darfur were a top priority, and calls on the Bush Administration to mobilize its international relationships to achieve new action on this crisis. The letter shows the breadth of support across the U.S. for greater engagement in stopping this crime against humanity, as religious leaders representing millions of Americans demand protection for Darfur now.”

Africa Action’s new report analyzes the role of key governments, such as Sudan, China and Russia, and key international bodies, such as the African Union and the Arab League, in the Darfur crisis, and it explores how the U.S. can effectively engage them in the pursuit of the authorized UN peacekeeping force for Darfur. It urges strategic diplomacy from the U.S. to break the current deadlock and internationalize the response to the growing crisis in western Sudan.

Ann-Louise Colgan, Director of Policy Analysis & Communications, said today, “The international community is running out of options on Darfur. As the situation on the ground continues to deteriorate, it is time for a new U.S. foreign policy strategy, which leverages U.S. relationships with key actors to advance the established goal of a UN peacekeeping force for Darfur. With millions of lives on the line, the Bush Administration must marshal all of its diplomatic resources now to press for a resolution to the ongoing genocide and to achieve protection for civilians and humanitarian operations in Darfur.”

Africa Action’s religious leader letter to Special Envoy Natsios, also sent to the White House today, calls for a “comprehensive diplomatic offensive on Darfur from the U.S. to ensure the deployment of a peacekeeping force that can protect the people of Darfur.” The letter urges the implementation of Security Council resolution 1706, authorizing a UN peacekeeping mission for Darfur, and states that the credibility of the U.S. on Darfur will be judged by the attainment of this goal.

The letter attracted many hundreds of signatures from prominent religious leaders across the country, including Bishop Charles E. Blake, Rabbi David Saperstein, Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Rabbi Marla Feldman, Rabbi Brant Rosen, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Rabbi Dan Ehrenkrantz, Rabbi Jerome Epstein, Rev. Tim McDonald and Rabbi Tzvi Hersh.

Marie Clarke Brill, Director of Public Education & Mobilization and Coordinator of Africa Action’s Religious Action Network, said today, “In this holiday season, many are putting faith into practice, calling on the U.S. to take new action to stop the genocide in Darfur. By signing this letter to Natsios, hundreds of religious leaders across the country are asserting that nothing short of a UN peacekeeping intervention will stop the growing violence in Darfur. They are demanding that the Bush Administration put the people of Darfur above its “war on terror” ties with Khartoum, and that the U.S. use its power to protect Darfur now.”

For the full list of signatories, as well as the full text of the letter and the new Africa Action report on Darfur, visit http://www.africaaction.org/ .

Africa Action’s newly updated “Talking Points on How to Stop Genocide in Darfur” are now available at http://www.africaaction.org/newsroom/index.php?type=14. Africa Action also recently released a new poster called “Faces of the UN”, depicting UN peacekeeping operations and key decision makers at the UN, and this is available for download at http://www.africaaction.org/docs/FacesoftheUN.pdf

Ends

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