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focuses on humanitarian aid and end to genocide in Sudan
[April 05, 2007]
KHARTOUM, Sudan -- U.S. Rep. Ray
LaHood, R-Peoria, Ill., has joined House Majority Leader Steny
Hoyer, D-Md., on a visit to the African country of Sudan as part of
a bipartisan congressional delegation traveling this week. The
delegation has met with a variety of government and humanitarian
leaders to discuss issues related to the ongoing atrocities in
The crisis began in February 2003, when two rebel groups emerged to
challenge the National Islamic Front government in Darfur. This
conflict escalated when the government of Sudan and its allied
militias, known as Janjaweed, began a campaign of terror against
civilians in an effort to crush the rebellion and to punish the core
constituencies of the rebels. At the core of the current conflict is
a struggle for control of political power and resources, with an
estimated 2 million people displaced from their homes within Darfur
and more than 213,000 people forced to flee into neighboring Chad.
Observers estimate that up to 450,000 people have been killed over
the course of this violence.
"The humanitarian crisis in Darfur is something that we must
address," said LaHood. "The millions of people who have been
displaced, the taking of innocent lives, and the starvation and
disease that have taken place cannot be tolerated by the rest of the
On Monday, the delegation traveled to Juba, the regional capital
of southern Sudan, and toured the U.S.-funded reconstruction effort.
Additionally, they met with Salva Kiir, the vice president of the
government of Sudan.
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On Tuesday, the delegation traveled to northern Darfur, where
they met with Mohamed Yousuf Kebir, the governor of North Darfur.
The delegation called on Kebir to allow U.N. peacekeeping troops
While in Darfur, the delegation toured the Alsalam Internally
Displaced Persons Camp, where 47,000 people seeking safety live in
crowded, deplorable conditions. The delegation also received
information on the peacekeeping efforts, with briefings by the
African Union Mission in Sudan force commander, Maj. Gen. Luke
Aprezi, and the United States Agency for International Development
as well as representatives from other nongovernmental organizations
that are taking part in the humanitarian mission in Darfur.
"On this trip we have seen firsthand that the United States is
leading the way in humanitarian assistance to the people of Darfur,"
LaHood said. "The American people have generous hearts, and I am so
proud of what our country does to help those in need."
[Text from file received from
Rep. Ray LaHood, 18th