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WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD), who led a bipartisan Congressional Delegation to Sudan in April, followed up that visit with one to the United Nations today, where Hoyer and Members of Congress urged UN officials to take immediate action to address the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Hoyer and the nine Members of Congress accompanying him met with Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon; Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guéhenno; U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad; and the Permanent Representatives to the United Nations from China and Egypt:
"Today's series of meetings at the United Nations was a very productive follow-up to our Congressional Delegation visit to Darfur in April. We traveled to the UN to demonstrate that a resolution to the conflict in Darfur - which has properly been labeled genocide - remains a top bipartisan priority of the U.S. Congress, and that we will continue to urge international action to stop the suffering of Darfurians.
"I appreciate the UN's four-pronged approach to addressing the crisis in Darfur, which focuses on reaching a political resolution, continued humanitarian assistance, institution of a robust peacekeeping force, and enhanced development aid. However, we felt it was important to underscore the urgent nature of the crisis - that tens of thousands have been displaced since January, that the killings and gender-based violence continues, and that humanitarian workers are coming under regular violent attack. We also discussed the need to bolster the current African Union forces on the ground, who continue to be under-manned and under-equipped, and have not been paid since February. I was heartened to hear Ban Ki-Moon assert that resolving the humanitarian crisis in Sudan remains his top priority as Secretary General. Indeed, I agree strongly with his comment that finding a resolution to this horrific, sustained conflict is critical to maintaining the UN's relevance in today's world.
"Our conversations with Under Secretary-General Guéhenno, Ambassador Khalilzad, as well as the Permanent Representatives from China and Egypt - two nations which have a unique ability to influence the Bashir government in Khartoum - were very frank and insightful.
"Already in this 110th Congress, the House has passed resolutions calling on China to increase its efforts to stop the genocide in Darfur and calling on the League of Arab States to acknowledge the genocide and to increase efforts to stop it. In the days ahead, we will continue to move forward with the Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act - which was introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California - which seeks to use economic leverage to address the crisis in Darfur.
"We must not turn a blind eye to the plight of Darfurians. The entire international community has a responsibility to act to stop genocide."