Sudan and South Sudan
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In 2002 the Boston Anti-Slavery Group brought a victim of slavery into Mike’s office. Upon hearing his story, Mike was compelled to act and brought a resolution condemning slavery in Sudan to the floor, where it passed unanimously on July 16, 2003.
In 2004 aid workers and activists who had recently returned from the Darfur region in western Sudan came to Mike with stories of mass atrocity. Mike worked with his colleagues to ensure that Congress declared the actions of the Sudanese government to be genocide on July 22, 2004 and the Bush Administration followed on September 9, 2004. While there was hope that this declaration would lead to action bringing relief to the victims of Darfur, it was not forthcoming from the Bush Administration.
In October of 2005 Mike co-founded the Congressional Caucus on Sudan to bring attention to the genocide and rally other Members of Congress. In 2011 the caucus was renamed the Congressional Caucus on Sudan and South Sudan.
Mike has traveled to the region twice, most recently in November of 2015 with the United Nations Foundation and other Members of Congress. A January 2016 deadline for creating a unity government in South Sudan has passed with limited action and the region remains a fragile and dangerous place.
Since that visit from the Boston Anti-Slavery Group in 2002, Mike has worked on a number of fronts to ease the suffering of the Sudanese people and advance peace. In 2006, after it was clear the State Department hadn’t requested enough money for the African Union peacekeeping mission, Mike offered an amendment to an emergency spending bill to increase their budget by $50 million. Mike worked with colleagues to secure these additional funds.
When Mike learned from humanitarian organizations that the Sudanese government was blocking aid workers’ permits and visas in December 2007, he wrote Secretary of State Rice asking her to press Sudan for proper humanitarian access.
In the lead up to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Mike introduced a resolution calling on the President not to attend the Opening Ceremony as a show of protest against China’s cooperation with the Sudanese government.
In the 110th Congress Mike introduced a resolution calling on the President to encourage the international community to donate much-needed resources to UNAMID, including essential helicopter assets.
In March of 2009 the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al Bashir, to which Bashir responded by kicking 16 humanitarian relief organizations out of Darfur. Mike took the lead in writing to three key global players – China, the African Union and the Arab League – to urge international support and pressure for the re-entry of the expelled groups.
Mike worked with Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) to secure U.S. assistance to Southern Sudan to strengthen judiciary and local governance. In 2011 Mike welcomed the declaration of independence of South Sudan, the world’s newest country. He was a vocal advocate of adherence to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that gave the South Sudanese a referendum on independence. That year Mike gathered the support of 62 other Members for a letter urging the President to address the root cause of conflict in Sudan with a comprehensive policy to combat marginalization of Sudan’s peripheries. Mike also called for greater U.S. action to end the humanitarian crisis in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
Ever since late 2013, when violence broke out in newly independent South Sudan, Mike has been concerned about the countless lives at risk and hundreds of thousands displaced persons. He remains hopeful that a lasting peace can be achieved between Sudan and South Sudan, and within the two countries. He has helped constituents whose families have been victims of tribal violence, putting survivors in touch with NGOs such as Doctors Without Borders and Church World Service.
Mike remains in close contact with the Obama Administration to discuss developments in Sudan and South Sudan, as well as U.S policy to address the many problems in the region.