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A Call to Restore Humanitarian Aid Operations to Sudan

Saperstein: “President Bashir’s expulsion of aid organizations from Sudan is morally reprehensible, and will result in the slow death of civilians across Sudan.”

Contact: Kate Bigam or Micaela Hellman-Tincher
202.387.2800 |

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 13, 2009 — In response to the expulsion of aid organizations from Sudan last week, Rabbi David Saperstein called for action by Reform Jewish activists, the U.S. government and the international community. Earlier this week Rabbi Saperstein joined with the Save Darfur Coalition to send a letter to President Obama on the same topic. The statement is below, followed by the text of the letter:

President Bashir’s expulsion of aid organizations from Sudan is morally reprehensible, and will result in the slow death of civilians across Sudan. It is expected that barring the operation of 16 humanitarian aid organizations throughout the country will leave an estimated 1.1 million people without food, 1.1 million lacking health care, and more than 1 million without drinking water. In Kalma camp, a meningitis epidemic is killing those already displaced from their homes, and in Zam Zam camp, a diarrhea epidemic threatens children’s lives.

Our congregations have been leaders in the movement for human rights in Darfur and for peace in Sudan. More than ever, now is the time for each of us to again call on members of Congress and the administration to pressure international actors to restore humanitarian aid to Darfur. [Resources for action can be found at]

President Bashir’s actions, coupled with recent violence toward aid workers in the region, only make more obvious the need for a strong international presence in Sudan. UN peacekeeping forces must be reinforced, and the U.S. must send an envoy to help bring peace to the region. President Bashir has succeeded at killing his citizens for too long. We cannot allow this tragedy to continue.


The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis.


March 11, 2009

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC

Dear President Obama,

Darfur demands your attention now. Millions of lives are at risk, and your direct engagement can not be delayed.

We are a broad coalition of faith-based, human rights and advocacy organizations, and on behalf of our constituencies we implore you to respond immediately to the increasingly urgent situation in Sudan.

As you know, the licenses of over a dozen humanitarian aid organizations have been revoked by the government of Sudan, leaving millions of Darfuri civilians at immediate risk of disease and starvation. You, along with other world leaders, must immediately and publicly condemn President Bashir's actions and insist that he restore access to life-saving humanitarian aid.

We know from your commitment to Darfur as a senator and your campaign pledge of "unstinting resolve" to end the Darfur genocide that you believe that the United States and its citizens cannot stand by while civilians are unjustly targeted by their own government. Since you were elected our president, over 250,000 Americans have signed postcards asking that your administration take swift and strong action to end the genocide in Darfur. Now, with millions of lives hanging in the balance, we must act immediately. Any delay will lead to even greater loss of life in Darfur.

The Sudanese government's decision to restrict the flow of humanitarian aid to Darfur represents the possible prelude to a humanitarian catastrophe of the highest magnitude. The 13 organizations that had their licenses revoked are some of the largest international aid groups in Darfur and sustain an apparatus that provides the last remaining lifeline for 4.7 million conflict-affected Darfuri people.

The time is now for the United States to immediately undertake an urgent, sustained diplomatic push to resolve the conflict in Darfur, including the reopening of humanitarian access. Sudan's recent actions reinforce the need to appoint a full-time Sudan envoy with the stature, mandate and authority to drive all aspects of Sudan policy.

We are counting on your leadership, President Obama. But more importantly, so are the people of Darfur.


Jerry Fowler
Save Darfur Coalition

Rabbi David Saperstein
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Mark Hanis
Executive Director
Genocide Intervention Network

Rabbi Steve Gutow
President and CEO
Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Ruth Messinger
President and CEO
American Jewish World Service

Frank Donaghue
Chief Executive Officer
Physicians for Human Rights

Reverend William G. Sinkford
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations

John Norris
Executive Director
ENOUGH Project

Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos
Sr. Program Director for Faith & Order and Interfaith Relations
National Council of Churches USA

Aram Hamparian
Executive Director
Armenian National Committee of America

Bryan Ardouny
Executive Director
Armenian Assembly of America

Helen Fein
Executive Director
Institute for the Study of Genocide

Don Kraus
Citizens for Global Solutions

Abraham H. Foxman
National Director
Anti-Defamation League

Jill Savitt
Genocide Prevention Project

Rabbi Jeffrey A. Wohlberg, President
Rabbi Leonard D. Gordon, Social Action Chair
Rabbi Marion Shulevitz
Rabbinical Assembly

Rev. David Emmanuel Goatley, Ph.D.
Executive Secretary-Treasurer
Lott Carey Convention/Lott Carey International

Tzivia Schwartz-Getzug
Executive Director
Jewish World Watch

Rabbi Marla Feldman
Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism                                     

Shelley Lindauer
Executive Director
Women of Reform Judaism

E. Robert Goodkind
Chair, JBI Council
Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights

Mahmoud Braima
Darfur Association in the USA, Birmingham, AL

Mohamed Adam Yahya
Founder and Executive Director
Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy

Marie Dennis
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Elise Klein
Teachers Against Prejudice

Bill Andress
Sudan Advocacy Action Forum

Martina W. Knee
Member, Executive Committee
San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition

Eric Cohen
Investors Against Genocide

Susan Morgan
Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur

Abdelbagi Jibril
Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre

Sharon Silber
US Representative
Society for Threatened Peoples
Jews Against Genocide

Nancy Walsh and Gloria Crist

Eileen B. Weiss
NYC Coalition for Darfur

Jimmy Mulla
Southern Sudanese Voice for Freedom

James Rucker
Executive Director

Elgasim Salih
World Relief Organization

Jessica Trubowitch
Director, Legislative Affairs and Intergroup Relations
Jewish Community Relations Council of the San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties

Kathryn Harrison
Executive Director
Darfur Alert Coalition

Joe Carson
Affiliation of Christian Engineers

Shrikumar Poddar
Mayurika Poddar
India Foundation, USA

K. S. Sripada Raju
International Service Society

Amin Tejani
ARC, Lansing, Michigan

Devesh Poddar
Washington Watch Inc.

Barbara Thomas
Annapolis Friends Meeting

Josh Pasek
Young Democrats of America Jewish Caucus

Nikki Serapio
Americans Against the Darfur Genocide

Eric Fusfield
B'nai B'rith International

Bob Brousseau
Kentuckiana Interfaith Taskforce on Darfur

Michael Neuroth
Policy Advocate on International Issues
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus
Rabbi Steven Fox
Executive Vice-President
Central Conference of American Rabbis

Michael Lucero
I Stop Genocide

Gerri Miller
Dear Sudan

David Rosenberg
Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition

Gabriel Stauring and Katie-Jay Scott
Stop Genocide Now

Chai Impact Action Center
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