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AJWS critical of administration split on Darfur

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The American Jewish World Service is concerned the Obama administration is sending conflicting signals about its view of Darfur.

"We believe that when conditions are as deplorable as they are, when millions remain displaced from their homes — many of them victims of rape and assault — lacking sufficient food and drinking water, it is dangerous to disagree in public about whether the genocide continues," AJWS President Ruth Messinger said in a statement.

Messinger was referring to comments made June 17 by the administration’s special envoy to Sudan, J. Scott Gratio, who said the Sudanese government was no longer engaging in a "coordinated" campaign of mass murder and that what is happening now is the "remnants of genocide." That came a few days after the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, called the current situation "genocide."

"What is essential is that we get assurances that the full complement of humanitarian aid has been completely restored and that the Obama administration recognizes that the status quo of the past seven years is unacceptable," Messinger said. "This is particularly the case when the onset of the rainy season continues to pose the threat that waterborne illness will spread rapidly among the population in the camps. This would cause widespread and rapid loss of life, advancing the concerted effort of the Sudanese government to cause a massive civilian death toll."

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir expelled humanitarian aid groups from the country in March, putting as many as 1 million Darfuris at risk of starvation, activists said.

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