This letter was delivered to several senior members of the Obama Administration at the July 30, 2012 White House Panel on sub-Saharan policy and to members of the Sudan Caucus at their briefing on the same day.
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President,
We, Act for Sudan, a bipartisan alliance of 72 organizations representing American citizen activists and Sudanese U.S. residents who advocate for an end to genocide and mass atrocities in Sudan, write because of our dire concern for the crises in the Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan and the Blue Nile State of Sudan. The civilians in those regions face imminent death by violence and starvation orchestrated by the Government of Sudan.
For more than one year, the international community has had the opportunity to address the crises in the Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan and the Blue Nile State. The crises are unfolding in a manner and on a timeline that has been predicted for many months; however, the weak response by the international community has proven ineffective.
Since UN Security Council Resolution 2046 was adopted on May 2, many thousands more refugees have fled Sudan and found “shelter” in desperately inadequate border camps. The New York Times and others have reported deaths by starvation, injury and disease for those unable to flee Sudan or for those not strong enough to complete the long journey out of Sudan.
Just as it had forecast earlier, USAID raised its food insecurity threat level from “crisis” and declared a food “emergency” in its July 5 alert for the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, noting the need for emergency action because of “large food consumption gaps, very high levels of acute malnutrition, and excess mortality” as a result of the Government of Sudan blocking humanitarian access and bombing civilians. Since then we’ve seen the beginning of the rainy season which, as expected, is even further restricting the possibilities of transporting food from “on border” locations to those in need across the border.
People are starving to death and dying violent deaths because the choice was made not to intervene. This passive response must end now.
UN Security Council Resolution 2046 “strongly urges Sudan and the SPLM-N to accept the tripartite proposal…to permit humanitarian access to the affected populations in the two areas.” The SPLM-N has signed the proposal and has repeatedly agreed to the cessation of hostilities on humanitarian grounds. However, as the August 2 UNSC deadline for completing negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan approaches, the Government of Sudan continues to bomb and attack the areas and to refuse access for humanitarian aid. The international community has delayed action for three more months, allowing starvation conditions to worsen.
As part of negotiations, the people of the Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan and the Blue Nile State must not be sacrificed in order to appease the Government of Sudan as it continues its aggression in South Sudan and Darfur and continues using the denial of food as a means of war against its own people. The Government of Sudan’s blatant and longstanding disregard of the international community and its abuse of its citizens clearly defines the nature of that government. Sudan’s repeated failure to abide by the outcome of negotiations is a well established pattern. The international community has exercised extraordinary patience while trying to secure agreement from Sudan to allow the delivery of aid. Deaths by starvation have begun and further delays are manifestly unacceptable. After 23 years of mass atrocities committed by President Bashir and his government, it is long past time for the United States and the international community to stand up to Bashir.
UN Security Council Resolution 2046 states that if the parties do not comply with the Resolution, the UNSC agrees “to take appropriate additional measures under Article 41 of the Charter as necessary.” The “appropriate additional measures” must include the immediate delivery of humanitarian aid.
If the Government of Sudan has not allowed access for humanitarian aid as outlined in the tripartite proposal by August 2, then we implore you to lose no further time in acting to deliver humanitarian aid to those who are in desperate need.
We ask the United States to act to deliver humanitarian aid, with or without agreement from the UN Security Council, with multilateral partners or unilaterally, and with the urgency that is required to save starving people.
Ensuring the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan and Blue Nile State will not solve all the problems of Sudan, but it is a necessary first step that is clearly within the capability of the United States, even if airdrops of food prove to be the only option. Other options were available earlier, but delaying action has allowed for increasingly desperate circumstance and deadly results for far too many Sudanese under attack by their government.
The government-induced famine in Sudan is only one of many crimes committed by President Bashir, already indicted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It is yet another example of why the U.S. must support an end to the regime and support the movement within Sudan for democratic transformation.
We continue to believe that strong leadership by the United States is essential to ending the violence, protecting civilians and bringing the perpetrators of genocide and mass atrocities to justice.
Act for Sudan, Co-founder
Secretary Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor, National Security Council Ambassador Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Princeton Lyman, U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan, U.S. Department of State Karen E. Richardson, Assistant Director, Office of Public Engagement, The White House Sudan Caucus of the United States Congress