Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

CLICK HERE TO WATCH

Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in support of H. Res. 1011, which calls on the United States and the international community to develop, fund, and implement a regional strategy which addresses the increasing intertwined security and humanitarian crisis in Chad, the Darfur region of the Sudan, and the northern region of the Central African Republic.

Borders in this region of the world are more of a concept than a reality. Ethnic groups straddle lines on a map, and conflict with each other or within one country inevitably spills over into the other countries. While this body has been seized by the horrific situation in Darfur, we have devoted far less attention to the broader regional crisis, particularly as it relates to Chad.

Chad has been plagued by intermittent conflict, both internally and with its neighbors since it gained independence in 1960. The current President of Chad, Idriss Dby, took power after launching a coup across the border in neighboring Darfur, Sudan, with the support of Libya and his fellow ethnic Zaghawas who straddle the border between Chad and Sudan. He has since faced at least five coup attempts, including one just this past February.

The Sudanese government's genocidal campaign in Darfur, which forced hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees across the border, has made the tensions within Chad, particularly among Dby's fellow Zaghawas, much worse. These tensions became further inflamed as the relationship between Chad and the Sudan deteriorated, with each government accusing the other of funding and supporting rebel movements within their respective borders, as well as in neighboring Central African Republic.

The spillover of conflict from Darfur into Chad and the Central African Republic, from Chad into Darfur, and from Central African Republic into Chad, has led to the displacement of more than 3.1 million people.

In Darfur, an upsurge in fighting among rebel groups, government forces, militias and armed ethnic groups has led to the displacement of more than 80,000 people since this past January.

In February of this year, 12,000 new refugees from Darfur arrived in Chad, bringing the total number of Sudanese refugees in eastern Chad to 250,000. Chad also is hosting an additional 152,000 refugees from Central African Republic.

At the same time, more than 180,000 people from Chad have been displaced by internal conflict, and in February, 30,000 people from Chad were forced to seek refuge in neighboring Cameroon after rebels, backed by the Sudanese government, attacked the capital.

As the wars in Chad, Sudan and Central African Republic become increasingly intertwined, and as the massive displacements take on a regional dimension, the United States and the international community must resist the urge to deal with each crisis in a vacuum. This resolution recognizes that reality and calls for a comprehensive strategy to protect civilians, facilitate humanitarian operations, contain and reduce violence, and contribute to conditions for sustainable peace and good governance throughout the region with all nations. This is not only a moral imperative, but also a significant strategy requirement.

I thank the sponsor of this resolution, Mr. Wolf, for introducing this important resolution, and I urge Members to support it.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH