U.S. House OKs Legislation to Aid Sudan

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 13, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. House of Representatives today condemned human rights abuses committed during Sudan´s 18-year civil war and moved to aid the peace process and punish foreign companies engaged in oil and gas production there, Reuters reported.

The House voted 422-2 to OK legislation that authorizes the president to make $10 million available to the rebels in Sudan´s south and urges the administration to support peace talks and help deliver humanitarian aid blocked by the government based in Khartoum.

Lawmakers said they had a moral obligation to take action against the slaughter in Sudan, where the civil war has killed up to 2 million people, and led to reports of widespread executions, slavery, forced labor and use of child soldiers.

The rebels have been fighting since 1983 for autonomy and secular rule in the black African south, whose mainly animist and Christian people resent attempts by the Arabic-speaking north to impose Islamic law and exploit resources in areas claimed by the south.

The House on a voice vote approved an amendment that would prohibit foreign companies from being listed on U.S. stock exchanges if they engage in oil exploration in Sudan. U.S. companies already are prohibited from operating in Sudan.

Rebels say the oil revenues help finance the government´s war effort, and rights groups say international oil firms active in Sudan are abetting government human rights violations in the south. The Khartoum government denies the charge.

The House vote moves the issue to the Senate, which has yet to take up a similar bill.

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