U.S. Rep. Again Implores Obama to Act on Sudan

Republican Frank Wolf
Republican Frank Wolf

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) today again implored the Obama Administration to do more to address the looming humanitarian crisis on the border of South Sudan and Sudan.

In a letter to the president, Wolf said has received disturbing reports that conditions are rapidly deteriorating in the Yida Refugee Camp in South Sudan and across the border in the Nuba mountains.

Wolf said he has been told there has been an “alarming” increase in the number of people arriving at the refugee camp in recent days and that the condition of the new refugees points to a serious shortage of food in the Nuba mountains. Wolf said he has been told the people have resorted to eating straw and bugs because there is no other food in the Nuba mountains.

“Time is running out,” Wolf wrote. “Lives hang in the balance. The marginalized people of these areas are yearning for our help.”

Wolf visited Yida in February and sent a series of recommendations to the White House upon his return. Actor George Clooney, NBC New Correspondent Ann Currie and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof also have been to Yida and the Nuba mountains in recent months in an effort to draw attention to the situation.

Wolf blames Sudanese President Omar Bashir for the man-made crisis, saying the daily bombing raids have prevented the people of the Nuba mountains from planting crops.

“Bashir is not only bombarding his own people, but is effectively starving them to death – using food as a weapon of war,” Wolf wrote.

“The blood of the Nuban people is on his hands.”

Earlier this month the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment to the fiscal year 2013 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill to cut off non-humanitarian aid to any nation that allows Bashir into their country as a way to isolate the internationally indicted war criminal. Wolf authored the amendment.

Wolf last fall called for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to drop Malawi from its program after the African nation allowed Bashir to enter the country to attend a regional trade summit. The MCC this spring voted to suspend Malawi’s compact and cited Bashir’s visit as one of the reasons. Wolf has noted that Malawi’s new president appears to be on a path of reform and has publicly urged the African Union to withdraw Bashir’s invitation to a June summit, which Malawi is hosting.

Below is the complete text of Wolf’s letter to Obama.

The Honorable Barack H. Obama

The President

The White House

Washington, DC 20501

Dear President Obama:

Today I received a disturbing report from on-the-ground contacts at the Yida Refugee Camp in South Sudan and in the Nuba mountain region in Sudan. Though two different areas, the challenges facing the people in these regions are intimately connected and rapidly deteriorating. I am told that there is an alarming increase in the number of refugees pouring into Yida from the Nuba mountains. These refugees are desperately seeking sustenance and a reprieve from the daily bombings that have terrorized them for months. The condition of the new arrivals is deeply troubling and indicates that serious malnutrition has increased in recent weeks.

I know you are well aware of this situation. George Clooney, with whom you recently met, has been there. NBC correspondent Ann Curry has been there. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has been there. And I have been there. In fact, several months ago I sent you and several members of your administration a copy of my trip report which sounded the alarm that a humanitarian crisis was looming.

Mr. President, I was told today that the people in the Nuba mountains have resorted to “eating straw and bugs.” They have not received seeds from U.S. and international aid groups to plant and the planting season is shortly coming to an end. The Nuba people are “effectively being starved out or to death by their own government.”

Today, I spoke with Ambassador Princeton Lyman and the USAID deputy administrator, Donald Steinberg, regarding this situation. Sudanese president, and internationally indicted war criminal, Omar al-Bashir is not only bombarding his own people, but is effectively starving them to death – using food as a weapon of war. The blood of the Nuban people is on his hands. Time is now of the essence as the rainy season has begun and in the weeks ahead the roads will be completely closed. I implore your administration to do more before the situation becomes catastrophic.

Time is running out. Lives hang in the balance. The marginalized people of these areas are yearning for our help.

Best wishes.

Frank Wolf

Member of Congress