Calling for Active Engagement in Darfur

Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 3128, the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act of 2006.

Three years ago, the United Nations Security Council declared its grave concern at the widespread human rights violations in Darfur and expressed its determination to do everything possible to halt a humanitarian catastrophe. Since then, at least 300,000 people are estimated to have died in Darfur. Currently, more than 3.5 million Darfurians depend on international aid for survival and another 2 million have been driven from their homes.

In 2004, pressure from Congress and American citizens prompted the Bush administration to become the first government to recognize the mass killing in Darfur as a genocide. Since then, the U.S. has played an important role by pressing for an international response to the crisis in Darfur at the U.N. supporting the deployment and expansion of the African Union Mission In Sudan (AMIS), and providing critical humanitarian aid. Unfortunately, the U.S. and the international community have yet to muster the will or cooperative action necessary to adequately protect civilians, end the killing, and broker lasting peace.

Last week the U.N. Security Council issued a resolution reaffirming that the situation in the Sudan continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security. In Darfur large scale attacks on villages have been replaced by rampant banditry, a campaign of sexual violence, and the practical entrapment of civilians in camps. Government backed militias have not been reined in and rebel groups are contributing to violence on the ground. Civilians continue to be attacked, women and girls raped, humanitarian workers harassed, and critical aid supplies disrupted. For people of Darfur, the situation remains one of daily violence and insecurity, desperate living conditions, and the persistent threat of hunger and disease.

Sixty years ago, in the wake of the Holocaust, the international community vowed, ``Never again.'' Ten years ago, confronted with the death toll of the Rwandan genocide, leaders of the same nations again declared, ``Never again.'' Today, tens of thousands of women, men, and children have been murdered and hundreds of thousands continue to suffer in Darfur. The Darfur Peace and Accountability Act reminds the administration and the international community that the genocide in Darfur demands urgent attention and action, and calls upon the President to use both economic and political leverage to elicit cooperation from the Sudanese government.

Passing the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act is a small, but important demonstration of this nation's commitment to human rights. I hope that passage of this important legislation will spur more concerted national and international efforts to bring security and stability to the people of Darfur.