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GOP lawmaker: Stop Sudan 'genocide'

Oscar nominee joined House delegation to war-ravaged Darfur

From Karla Crosswhite-Chigbue
CNN


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A bipartisan congressional delegation, accompanied by an Oscar-nominated actor, urged the United States and the international community Thursday to take action to end the war in the Darfur region of Sudan.

The six-member delegation, led by Republican Rep. Ed Royce of California, recently returned from the region after getting a firsthand look at the humanitarian crisis and examining how the United States and other countries are responding.

"This killing goes on day in, day out," Royce told a Capitol Hill news conference. "I saw young children who have lost their hands. I asked one how, and he said by sword, by the Janjaweed [militia].

"Many others have lost their hearing from the bombardment. We saw many crippled people. We know of the systematic rape that has occurred throughout this region, the plunder of crops and of cattle.

"And right now there are over 1.4 million displaced people wandering around in Sudan [and] about a quarter of a million over the border now in Chad as a consequence of this genocide."

Royce, chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa of the International Relations Committee, is demanding the U.S. government push harder for U.N. sanctions against the Sudanese government.

"This is not a problem for Africans alone to solve. The whole world must be engaged," he said.

Accompanying the mission was actor Don Cheadle, nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the film "Hotel Rwanda."

Cheadle was invited to go on the trip by Royce after the two discussed how the film, which is set amid the genocide in Rwanda 10 years ago, might help end the crisis in Darfur.

"We cannot stand here in a free society, proclaiming that we care about human life, and do nothing in the face of this, in my opinion," Cheadle said.

"People saw the film and said, 'Wow that was terrible. I wish I had known.' Now you know."

The conflict in Darfur began in 2003, when two non-Arab African groups took up arms against what they believed to be the Arab-dominated government's discrimination against black Africans.

"What we are seeing are tsunamis of violence," Cheadle said, "and we will continue to see these unless people step up, unless people step forward and demand from their leadership, demand from the international community that this not stand."

On the mission with Royce and Cheadle were Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, Barbara Lee and Diane Watson of California, and Betty McCollum of Minnesota.

The trip included visits to refugee camps along the Chad-Sudan border and meetings with political leaders from Darfur, the African Union observer force and humanitarian groups.


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