Pressure from religious groups over the Darfur humanitarian crisis is pushing the Bush administration toward an urgent request to the United Nations for a resolution by the end of this month.
President Bush had asked Congress last week to double the number of international troops with a proposed $389 million for peacekeeping efforts in Darfur, Sudan a significant step applauded by faith leaders. Now, the administration, which holds the United Nations Security Council presidency this month, awaits the report of the U.N. assessment mission in an urgent request to quickly map out the world body deploying thousands of peacekeeping troops to the war-torn region.
"We eagerly await the report of the U.N. assessment mission. We'd like it to be as soon as possible just because there's an urgency to the matter. People are dying in Darfur and we need to act to stop it," State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli said, according to Reuters.
Faith leaders and student activists have been raising their voices over the urgency of the crisis in recent months. Rallies and campaigns have increasingly been taken to the White House for immediate action and an end to the genocide that began in 2003.
A 22-city national speaking tour launched Wednesday night in Philadelphia as part of a larger Million Voices for Darfur campaign. Organized by the Save Darfur Coalition and its over 150 faith-based, advocacy and humanitarian aid groups, the tour is featuring a former Marine captain and witness to the genocide as it travels over 21,000 miles in the next two months.
"While President Bush deserves credit for asking Congress for emergency supplemental funding of $389 million for peacekeeping and humanitarian aid projects in Darfur, that's just the first step to ending this crisis," said the featured speaker, Brian Steidle, U.S. representative to the African Unions peacekeeping mission in Darfur, in a released statement. "This tour is designed to educate the American people about the Darfur genocide and to motivate them to turn up the heat on the Bush administration to take the many other steps necessary to end the suffering for millions of men, women and children in Darfur."
The speaking tour is slated to end with a "Rally to Stop Genocide" at the nation's capital on Apr. 30.
The Million Voices for Darfur campaign was launched in January to generate one million postcards to Bush asking him to undertake a stronger response to the violence in Darfur.
For more information on the Tour for Darfur, visit www.savedarfur.org