Interfaith Leaders Push Obama Administration for Urgent Action in Sudan’s Border Region as Famine Looms
New York, NY; January 31, 2012— American Jewish World Service (AJWS), an international development and human rights organization, and The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), the public affairs arm of the organized American Jewish community, have spearheaded an effort to organize faith-based leaders to warn of an impending humanitarian disaster in Sudan and urge the Obama administration to step up diplomacy aimed at convincing the Sudanese government to allow international humanitarian aid into Sudan’s border regions. Over the past five months, fighting has escalated and millions remain trapped in the conflict without access to food. The region faces famine unless the Sudanese government allows a resumption of aid.
This week, AJWS and JCPA released letters to Secretary Clinton signed by over 350 rabbis and Jewish leaders and 15 prominent figures from across the faith community. These faith leaders called on the Obama administration to amplify efforts to reach a negotiated solution with the Sudanese government. If an agreement cannot be reached, the faith community hopes the U.S. will develop alternative plans to ensure aid reaches at-risk civilians.
“The faith community has joined together, calling in one voice for the US to use its leadership and influence to protect the Sudanese people from what appears to be intentional starvation,” said JCPA president Rabbi Steve Gutow. “This disaster is not brought by weather or accidental circumstance, but rather because available food supplies are being prevented from reaching the people of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. We will not stand idly by, watching as entire populations are denied the opportunity to live a full life. Humanitarian groups are ready and able to help, and the US must ensure that they are free to do so.”
“Food is an essential human need, not a weapon of war,” said Ruth Messinger, president of AJWS. “We know that people will soon begin dying and becoming malnourished in staggering numbers. The world cannot and must not passively watch people starve as humanitarian aid supplies are being obstructed and those who wish to flee are blocked. The faith community expects our leaders in government to step up their efforts and their level of urgency to stop this preventable disaster.”
Messinger and Rabbi Gutow will meet later today with Samantha Power, Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs, National Security Council, to discuss the Obama administration’s efforts in the region.