Hoyer Meets with Darfur Relief Organizations, Releases Report from Trip

Following CoDel to Region, Hoyer Continues to Explore Ways to End the Genocide

WASHINGTON (June 8, 2007) - Steny Hoyer (So. Md.) met today on Capitol Hill with leading relief organizations that are working to alleviate the suffering in Sudan to discuss his recent trip to the region. Hoyer says that bringing attention and action to the conflict in Darfur is a focus of the Majority Leader Office.

"I am impressed by the dedication and hard work of these relief organizations," said Hoyer today. "There are thousands of Darfurians whose lives depend on these humanitarian organizations. I appreciate their thoughts as to how Congress can continue to bring attention and take substantive action on this critical issue."

In his first official travel as House Majority Leader, Hoyer led a bipartisan Congressional Delegation (CoDel) of 11 Members to Darfur, Sudan and Egypt in early April. The delegation met with officials of those two nations, as well as representatives of relief organizations.

Participants in today's meeting discussed the CoDel's trip, a report on the trip compiled by the Majority Leader's Office summarizing the meetings and findings, and potential follow-up action. The report can be viewed at http://majorityleader.house.gov/ .

"Save the Children's staff in Khartoum is very grateful to have had the opportunity to meet with members of Congress and their staff to discuss the challenges we continue to face in West Darfur," said Susan Braden of Save the Children, which operates the largest humanitarian program in West Darfur. "Save the Children continues to work in West Darfur at near capacity, despite violence, heightened risks to our staff and increasing difficulty in accessing remote populations of conflict-affected children and their families. The gains children and families are making are fragile. The volatility of the conflict, the tremendous scope of the needs and the sheer numbers of people living under very difficult circumstances all contribute to the tenuous nature of their progress. However, Save the Children and other humanitarian organizations working in Darfur remain steadfast in our efforts to bring help and hope to displaced children and families in West Darfur."

Since the CoDel, Hoyer says he has taken several steps to pressure the U.S., Sudanese and other governments to take action to stop the violence in Darfur, protect the humanitarian infrastructure in this devastated region, and advance the peace process.

On April 23, Hoyer wrote a letter to Al Samani Al Wasila, at the Sudanese Foreign Ministry, challenging his assertion that non-governmental organizations face no bureaucratic hurdles in Sudan. On May 4, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Hoyer sent a letter to President Bush, urging him to raise the issue of humanitarian access in all dealings with Sudan. The letter was signed by 21 Senators and 38 Representatives, including the entire membership of the bipartisan CoDel. Additionally, Hoyer joined over 100 colleagues on May 7 in writing Chinese President Hu, urging him to use China's unique leverage with Sudan to end the violence and establish a peacekeeping force. Most recently, on May 25, Hoyer sent a letter, signed by the entire CoDel, to Southern Sudan President Salva Kiir, in support of his efforts to bring warring rebel factions in Darfur to the negotiating table.

As Majority Leader, he has worked with Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) to bring two important resolutions to the House Floor on Darfur. H.Con.Res.7 urged the Arab League and each Member State individually to acknowledge the genocide and step up their efforts to end the violence, and H.Res.422, which passed unanimously this week, calling on China to condemn the atrocities taking place in Darfur and end military and economic assistance to the government of Sudan until it stops civilian attacks and engages in peace negotiations.

Hoyer says he will continue to work with Representative Lee, Members of the CoDel, other Members of Congress, relief organizations, and other outside groups to take action on Darfur in the coming weeks and months.

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