Ellison in Sudan to discuss relief effort and peace plans


Rep. Keith Ellison will be in Sudan this week as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. During his trip, Ellison is meeting with officials in the country to discuss the ongoing humanitarian situation in Darfur and plans for the implementation of a peace agreement.

Ellison was arrested in Washington last April during a protest at the Sudanese embassy. Several members of Congress and other advocates for the region planned the protest when 13 aid groups were kicked out of Sudan by the country's president, Omer Al-Bashir. The groups have since been allowed back into the war-torn areas, but serious issues still exist.

Check out his Twitter updates here.

More from Ellison's office announcement:

Ellison also intends to discuss the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) recently agreed upon by the Khartoum-based government, and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) of Southern Sudan. The CPA, signed with strong U.S. support, grants the SPLM regional autonomy and calls for wealth-sharing, power-sharing and security arrangements between the two parties.

Prior to the signing of the CPA a decades-long conflict was waged between the two parties that left more than 2 million people dead, and over 4 million displaced.

Ellison will also inquire into the progress being made towards the national elections; the status of the census and contested areas which are essential to the national elections; and the return of displaced persons.

Ellison plans to also visit a United Nations peacekeeping mission, meet with several humanitarian organizations still in Sudan and look at the U.S. assistance in the country. He will visit several refugee camps in the South where many Sudanese in Minneapolis came from.

"The Congressman's trip comes at a critical time when we are working to unify rebel groups in Darfur and preparing parties to return to the negotiating table, said Jonathan S. Gration, President Obama's Special Envoy to Sudan in a statement. "We are pleased that he and other Members of Congress are willing to travel to the Sudan to see the conditions on the ground first hand."