Obama names special envoy to Sudan

WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama named a retired Air Force general as his special envoy to Sudan.

J. Scott Gration, who was raised in Africa and is fluent in Swahili, has been an adviser to Obama since 2006. Gration traveled with the then-senator to refugee camps in Chad filled with those displaced by the genocide in Darfur.

"His appointment is a strong signal of my administration’s commitment to support the people of Sudan while seeking a lasting settlement to the violence that has claimed so many innocent lives," Obama said Wednesday, noting that Gration is a "valued personal friend."

Obama also emphasized that Sudan "is a priority for this administration" and blasted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for throwing humanitarian aid organization out of the country earlier this month.

"The government of Sudan’s disastrous decision to expel humanitarian relief organizations leaves a void that will be filled by deprivation and despair and they will be held accountable for the lives lost," said Obama.

The president said he will "work with the international community to end the suffering" in Sudan, which includes "supporting the full, unobstructed deployment of the joint African Union/United Nations peacekeeping force and the negotiation of a political solution that will give the people of Darfur a meaningful voice in the decisions that affect their future."

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