PRESS RELEASE

Capuano Seeks More Funding for Darfur Peacekeeping in Appropriations Bill Amendment


March 16, 2006

Congressman Capuano's amendment increasing peacekeeping funding for the Darfur region of Sudan by $50 million passed today in the House. The amendment was included in H.R. 4939: the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Hurricane Recovery of 2006.

"Congress and President Bush have correctly characterized the horrific acts taking place in the Darfur region of Sudan as genocide. The United States has a moral obligation to do everything possible to stem the tide of unspeakable violence," stated Congressman Capuano, who is a co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Sudan.

The supplemental appropriations bill contains $123 million for the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS). However, this funding will only sustain the AU's mission at its current level, it is not enough to strengthen the AU forces on the ground to a level where they could more effectively protect civilians and bring security. During Congressman Capuano's recent trip to Darfur, AU members told him that they needed more resources. Congressman Capuano's amendment adds $50 million in funding, bringing the total for AMIS to $173 million.

"Innocent civilians are dying because the AU forces are hampered by a lack of numbers as well as a lack of command and control, communications and logistical capacity. We cannot sit back and allow more men, women and children to die when there is more that we can do to protect them. This additional funding will ensure that they have the resources they need to protect civilians until the UN arrives, which could take over a year," stated Congressman Capuano.

Congressman Capuano is an outspoken critic of the Sudanese government. In July of 2003 he authored a resolution condemning slavery in Sudan that passed unanimously in the House. In April of 2005 he called on Massachusetts' public pension boards to divest from any companies doing business in Sudan. He co-founded the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Sudan in October of 2005. Late last year, he wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice demanding an explanation of U.S. policy in Sudan after a number of troubling developments. 105 members of Congress joined him in that effort. Congressman Capuano traveled to Sudan in February. He recently met with United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton to urge that UN peacekeeping forces be quickly moved into Darfur.

H.R. 4939 is expected to pass in the House later this evening.

(Read a letter from Mike acknowledging the work of many advocacy groups done in support of this amendment.)

--

Contact: Alison M. Mills (617) 621-6208