WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today led a group of 32 lawmakers expressing serious concerns about the rapidly worsening situation on Sudan. In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, the lawmakers underscored increased civilian displacement in Darfur and the recent allegations that the Sudanese government has used chemical weapons against its citizens. The letter also called on Secretary Kerry to ask the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to investigate these allegations in Sudan, and to strongly encourage Sudan to cooperate with such an investigation.
The letter was co-signed by House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Chairman Edward R. Royce, along with Reps. McGovern, Rooney, Lee, McCaul, Capuano, and Pitts of the Sudan and South Sudan Issues Caucus and 24 other Members of Congress. The text of the letter follows:
Dear Mr. Secretary:
We write today to express our serious concerns about increased civilian displacement in Darfur and the recent allegations that the Sudanese government has been engaged in the systematic use of chemical weapons against civilians. We find the use of such measures against innocent men, women, and children appalling and urge you to take every appropriate step to ensure unfettered humanitarian access to the Jebel Marra region so that the victims of these attacks can receive the medical attention they require.
In addition, we would like you to ask the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to investigate these allegations in Sudan, and to strongly encourage Sudan to cooperate with such an investigation. Sudan has acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention, and as such has a legal responsibility not to use, produce or stockpile chemical weapons. If OPCW is not granted access to conduct its investigation, we will have to assume that the government is hiding its complicity in these atrocities.
As Members of Congress, we believe that it is important to support a peaceful Sudan in which its citizens can enjoy increased stability, civil liberties, and economic growth. However, we remain deeply concerned that peace talks have failed to bring security for the people of Darfur. We thank you for your sustained work towards these ends and await your response on this important issue.
In September, Ranking Member Engel condemned the Government of Sudan’s alleged use of chemical weapons against its civilians in Darfur’s Jebel Marra region. This condemnation was based on a report that the Sudanese government carried out at least 30 attacks since January 2016.