September 30, 2002
UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM’S COMMITTEE ON CONSCIENCE DENOUNCES KHARTOUM’S BAN ON HUMANITARIAN FLIGHTS
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Conscience today sharply denounced a decision by Sudan’s Khartoum-based government to ban UN—sponsored international humanitarian relief flights into southern Sudan. The flights carry about 150 tons per day and normally provide food and medicine to 3 million civilians in the region.
“Once again, the Sudanese government is attempting to use starvation as a weapon of destruction against its own citizens,” said Jerome Shestack, chairman of the Committee on Conscience. “If the ban is not lifted, many innocent people will die. It will create an emergency of immense proportions.”
A flight ban in 1998 contributed to a famine that killed tens of thousands of southern Sudanese. In all, an estimated two million people, mostly civilians, have died in Sudan and 4 million have been driven from their homes in 19 years of ethnic, racial and religious conflict.
“We strongly reiterate our warning of genocide in Sudan,” Mr. Shestack said.
Under international law, genocide is the intentional physical destruction, in whole or in part, of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such.
In October 2000, the Committee on Conscience issued a genocide warning for Sudan, which remains in effect. The warning is based on the government’s use of starvation as a weapon, as well as on other government actions directed against the people of southern Sudan and other marginalized areas: routine bombing of civilian and humanitarian targets such as schools and hospitals; toleration of slavery; a strategy of pitting ethnic groups against each other; and persecution on account of race, ethnicity and religion. U.S.—led efforts to bring about a just peace in Sudan have recently stalled.
The mandate of the Committee on Conscience, established in 1995, is “to alert the national conscience, influence policymakers and stimulate worldwide action to confront and work to halt acts of genocide and related crimes against humanity.” More information about Sudan and the work of the Committee on Conscience can be found online at www.ushmm.org/conscience/.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is America’s national institution for the documentation, study and interpretation of Holocaust history. It serves as this country’s memorial to the millions of people murdered during the Holocaust. Since opening in April 1993, the Museum has welcomed more than 18 million visitors. The Museum’s primary mission is to advance and disseminate knowledge about this unprecedented tragedy; to preserve the memory of those who suffered; and to encourage its visitors to reflect upon the moral questions raised by the events of the Holocaust as well as their own responsibilities as citizens of a democracy.