April 13, 2024

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Refugees International Welcomes Appointment of U.S. Envoy for Sudan, Urges Further Action on Sudan

Press Statement

“Refugees International welcomes the appointment of Tom Perriello as the new U.S. Envoy for Sudan. He brings a wealth of diplomatic, atrocity prevention, and human rights experience to the role. The appointment of Perriello as the envoy is a positive and essential step. But to succeed, he will need the full backing of the White House. President Biden must speak out about Sudan and provide the envoy with all necessary support to fulfill his challenging mandate. 

Ten months in, the war in Sudan has created a human catastrophe. It has displaced more than 8 million people, including 1.6 million as refugees outside Sudan. Over half of people in Sudan need relief aid. Absent a robust humanitarian intervention, many communities will face an imminent risk of famine and the threat of plausible genocide. Sudanese Armed Forces’ recent decision to prohibit cross-border humanitarian assistance via Chad in the region controlled by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) will further exacerbate the already acute food insecurity situation.  

As Perriello works to give diplomatic efforts a badly needed reset, we urge him to also prioritize near-term priorities that would meaningfully alleviate the human toll of the conflict.  

First, he should work with USAID and humanitarian partners to scale up assistance through local Sudanese groups. Since the outbreak of the conflict, local emergency response rooms (ERRs) and other mutual aid groups have been on the frontline, delivering aid in a difficult security situation with limited resources. The envoy should ensure local groups like the ERRs are central to the humanitarian response strategy. He should also engage with regional governments, particularly Egypt, to press them to protect Sudanese refugees and facilitate humanitarian action. 

 Second, the envoy should prioritize the protection of civilians, especially those facing ongoing atrocities in Darfur. The region was traumatized by genocide 20 years ago, and history threatens to repeat itself. The United States has already determined that crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed. The envoy must now press for accountability for those crimes, including in cooperation with the International Criminal Court. Special Envoy Perriello’s own background with Sierra Leone’s Special Court makes him well-equipped to engage in this dimension.   

Finally, the envoy must be fully empowered to engage with Sudan’s neighbors and influential Gulf countries. The recent diplomatic tour of African capitals by RSF leader Hemedti – who is directly responsible for ongoing atrocities – is emblematic of the way that regional dynamics are enabling crimes against humanity. The envoy must call out and address the UN Security Council Arms Embargo violations in Darfur by the United Arab Emirates and others and push back on any efforts to rehabilitate Hemedti diplomatically.” 

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