MODERATOR:  Good afternoon to everyone from the U.S. Department of State’s Africa Regional Media Hub.  I would like to welcome our participants logging in from across the continent and thank all of you for joining this discussion.   

Today, we are very pleased to be joined by the U.S. Department of State’s Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice, Beth Van Schaack.  Ambassador Van Schaack will discuss the recent determination made by Secretary of State Antony Blinken that members of the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing in Sudan.  After brief opening remarks, Ambassador Van Schaack will take questions from participating journalists.  She joins us from Washington, D.C.  

We will begin today’s call with opening remarks from Ambassador Van Schaack and then we will turn to your questions.  We will try to get to as many of them as we can during the briefing. 

As a reminder, today’s call is on the record, and with that, I will turn it over to the U.S. Department of State’s Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack. 

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Great.  Thank you so much, Tiffany.  And good morning, good afternoon to everyone on the call.  I really appreciate you taking the time to learn more about this recent atrocities determination.  The situation in Sudan is really dire, and it’s important that we all remain focused on it.  They really deserve our full attention. 

As you will have followed, since April, Sudanese civilians have really borne the brunt of a needless and unconscionable conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces, the SAF, and the Rapid Support Forces, the RSF.   

To date, according to the data we have, at least 10,000 people have been killed and over 6.8 million people have been displaced from their homes.  Some remain internally displaced, and some have become refugees across an international border.  We have all seen chilling media reports that reflect that thousands of people have been swept into detention sites in and around Khartoum, where we know that some have been tortured and some have been killed.   

The war has also been waged on the bodies of women and girls who have been terrorized by deliberate, systemic sexual violence inflicted by the RSF and its allied militia forces.  They are attacked in their homes; they are kidnapped from the streets; women and girls have been subjected to conflict-related sexual violence including rape, gang rape, and sexual slavery.  Survivors are often unable to access any kinds of medical care or psychological support, thus leaving lasting trauma. 

In Darfur in particular, we have witnessed an explosion of violence against civilians along ethnic lines.  People are not safe in their homes, in mosques, or in schools.  We have read numerous, credible reports of RSF and affiliated Arab militias seeking out in particular Masalit people and members of other African communities, hunting for men and boys, shooting people desperately fleeing for their lives, stealing everything of value, and burning the rest. 

Based upon a careful review of the facts and a legal analysis, the Secretary of State recently determined that members of the Sudanese Armed Forces and the RSF have committed war crimes.  He also determined that members of RSF and their allied militia have committed crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing in Darfur.  

The Secretary made this determination to bear witness to, and to shine a light on, the abuses suffered by the Sudanese people at the hands of the very forces who are meant to protect them.  We also hope to rally the international community to help us end the violence, address the humanitarian crisis, and promote justice for survivors and victims.  In the State Department and across the U.S. Government, we will continue to track and document the scope and breadth of the belligerents’ myriad crimes.  

And in this regard, I really want to acknowledge the important work that journalists have done in this case.  They have not been deterred by the violence on the ground, and so we really appreciate, particularly some of the regional media centers, to continue to cover these issues. 

For too long in Sudan, perpetrators have killed, raped, and attacked civilians with impunity.  The atrocities occurring today in Darfur are an ominous reminder of the prior genocide from the early 2000s, in that they involve so many of the same perpetrators, the same communities being targeted, and the same patterns of criminality. 

The United States applauded the recent announcement that alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the current fighting may be subject to investigation and prosecution before the International Criminal Court.  The ICC prosecutor’s office has announced that it has commenced focused investigations onto recent events.  The international community must work together towards meaningful justice for victims and affected communities and bring an end to this long era of impunity.  And we urge all states to cooperate with this investigation.  

In this regard, continued documentation will be critical to lay the groundwork for all accountability efforts.  The U.S. Government has worked closely with key allies to establish a new Sudan-focused fact-finding mission at the Human Rights Council.  This new mechanism will be able to gather evidence of atrocities nationwide and begin to establish responsibility for their commission. 

We have also funded, through our conflict and stabilizations organization, a new Sudan Conflict Observatory that’s based at Yale University.  Their reports are made public, and I encourage you to check out their website for their recent reporting. 

The United States will also continue to support Sudanese-led documentation efforts, particularly those that are survivor-centered and trauma-informed. 

In terms of the humanitarian crisis, the United States remains the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance to the people of Sudan.  We’re providing nearly $895 million in total humanitarian assistance in Fiscal Year 2023 through USAID, through the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, and other sources.  This funding provides emergency food assistance, protection services, health care, nutrition support, shelter, water, sanitation, and hygiene services, and other forms of relief for millions of people in Sudan and for those who have now fled to neighboring countries.  This funding also helps our partners engage in protection efforts, including with respect to gender-based violence prevention and response.  It also helps to provide psychosocial support services for the most vulnerable and at-risk populations across the full humanitarian response. 

Finally, we are working to end the fighting through diplomatic means with a team of experienced diplomats, working with regional partners like IGAD and the African Union and other intergovernmental institutions to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance, establish ceasefires and other confidence-building measures, and building towards a permanent cessation of hostilities.   

Sudan’s future – political future belongs to the Sudanese people.  They deserve a future that fulfils their aspirations for freedom, peace, and justice.  And we’re working with a number of partners to achieve this outcome.   

So at this point, I’m really happy to take any questions from the group and to discuss the atrocities determination and next steps further.  So thanks very much for being here.  

MODERATOR:  Thank you, Ambassador.  We will now begin the question-and-answer portion of today’s briefing.  We’ve received quite a number of questions in advance.  We’ll just start with one submitted from Mr. Mohamed Nyala from Darfur24 in Sudan.  He asks: “The Human Rights Council announced in September an independent investigation committee, which was rejected by the Sudanese Government.  What will the Biden administration do to push both entities in the conflicts to allow this committee to start its work, particularly in conflict areas outside Darfur where the ICC does not have a mandate to work?” 

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Yeah, thank you.  It’s really a terrific question.  The Human Rights Council in Geneva has produced a number of these fact-finding missions and commissions of inquiry over the years for conflict situations around the globe, and it’s always preferable, of course, that the target state allow those mechanisms to work within their country.  It’s – they’re very much geared towards revealing what’s happening but also producing cogent recommendations for those states as to how they can reduce violence and address the harms caused by human rights violations and abuses on their own people.  So we, of course, encourage states to allow those mechanisms to operate.   

Sometimes that does not always happen, and in this case, as you’ve mentioned, the Sudanese Government has rejected this proposal.  So what we’ve seen in the past with these mechanisms is with open-source investigations it’s now possible to do very comprehensive investigations without ever stepping foot in the country.  We know that there are more than a million persons who have already crossed an international border.  You will have seen that our ambassador to the United Nations, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, traveled to Chad several weeks ago, met directly with survivors, with refugees.   

The fact-finding mission will be able to do the same with respect to those communities, but also will be able to review open-source information, satellite imagery.  They will be able to scrub social media sites.  They can utilize the work of journalists who are able to gain access to the country.  And they have access to the reports produced by the Conflict Observatory at Yale.   

So while it’s always preferable that a mechanism like that gets access, they can absolutely do their work and produce very comprehensive findings even without it.  We’re very hopeful that that fact-finding mission is convened quickly and is able to begin its work.  

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  We’ll just take one more that was sent in advance before going to our live questions.  This was by Mr. Mohamed Maher at Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper in Egypt.  And he asks:  “Ambassador Van Schaack, could you elaborate on the key findings that led to the determination of war crimes and ethnic cleansing in Sudan?  And will these determinations lead to any international legal proceedings?  If so, what form might these take?” 

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Yeah, thank you very much.  So when we do a determination, it’s actually quite a detailed process.  We look at a whole range of sources of information.  As I mentioned before, we really look very closely at credible journalistic reporting, and thank you for all of you for covering this conflict so carefully.  We also have our own internal intelligence sources that we’re able to review.  We look at the reports that emerge from credible human rights organizations, including very large multinational organizations like the Human Rights Watches of the world. 

But we also look at Sudanese-led documentation efforts.  And we have our own Conflict Observatory that’s able to do very sophisticated open-source analyses, scrubbing social media sites and aggregating those data and then putting them through big data analytics in order to view and identify patterns of criminality and of violence that may not be immediately obvious to the naked eye.  And so these are all the types of sources that we look at. 

As I mentioned, what we have seen is that both parties – the Sudanese Armed Forces themselves and the Rapid Support Forces – have committed war crimes.  This includes custodial abuses, so mistreating individuals in the custody of those two bodies, but also when it comes to the RSF in particular, deliberate attacks on villages and other civilians in the Darfur region.   

We also found that the RSF and some of its allied militias are committing crimes against humanity.  This is an offense under international law that is defined by a range of different violent acts committed against a civilian population on a widespread or a systematic basis.  So there’s a very high standard, and it must be pursuant to a policy.  And so on the basis of our open-source and other reporting, we were able to conclude that, in fact, the attack against civilians by the RSF and an allied militia was widespread and also that it was pursuant to a policy to deliberately target civilians.  

In terms of the second half of your question – what are the prospects for justice? – we know that the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over events in Darfur.  That stemmed from a 2005 referral by the Security Council of the situation at that time to the court.  Now, in many respects, the violence today is linked to the earlier violence.  And so as I mentioned in my opening remarks, the prosecutor recently announced that he has commenced a focused investigation on current events in connection with that original referral.  

But as you also noted – or as one of the questions noted – the ICC, as a technical matter, really only has jurisdiction over the Darfur situation.  That was the basis of the original referral.  And so it will be for other justice institutions to focus on violations that are happening in Khartoum and in other parts of the country.  In this regard, the work of the new fact-finding mission will be incredibly important, because it will be generating not only information about the crime base – what is happening on the ground, who is being harmed – but also it has a mandate to consider who is most responsible.  So it can continue to identify perpetrators.  That information then will be available to prosecutors and investigators around the world who may be able to exercise jurisdiction over events in Sudan in domestic courts.  

So in our own system we recently amended our War Crimes Act at the end of last year in order to allow U.S. courts to exercise jurisdiction over war crimes when they’re committed in a situation like Darfur, regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator, the nationality of the victim, or the place of commission.  So if our courts were ever to be able to assert jurisdiction over Sudanese perpetrators, we would be able to prosecute war crimes here in the United States.  So that’s just a sample of potential opportunities for pursuing justice for the acts that we’re seeing that undergirded our atrocity determination.  

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Next I’d like to turn to one of our live questions from Pearl Matibe, who is writing for Premium Times in Nigeria.  Could you open the line for her, please?  

QUESTION:  Thank you so much, Ambassador Van Schaack.  It’s great to hear what you have shared.  I wonder, could I give you an opportunity to respond to what critics seem to claim that part of what’s been going on in Sudan is resulting from missteps and actions – foreign policy actions that were taken by the United States, including actions that were not taken by the United States in years past including in the past administration?  I wonder if I could give you an opportunity to address what I’m sure you’ve been hearing critics say about what the U.S. could have done, did not do, or is doing now, and maybe respond and maybe you talk about the success of things that you have done.  Thanks so much. 

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Yeah.  Thank you so much, Pearl.  Obviously, it was incredibly disappointing to see violence re-emerge within Sudan, and we were very hopeful when President Omar al-Bashir was unseated finally after years of repression, including being at the helm when a genocide unfolded in Darfur.  But also we’ve seen violence around the country in the two areas – the Blue Nile, et cetera.  And so there was this moment of great hope when there was a civilian-led government, the people took to the street very much led by women.  I think that was really a strong feature of that protest movement. 

And then, of course, it proved to be short-lived, and I imagine there is much more that all of us in the international community could have done to support the underlying impulse behind that protest movement to support a civilian-led government and to build a community of civil society who could help provide a sort of infrastructure around that civilian-led government in order for the full aspirations of the Sudanese people to be realized in a government that’s responsive to their needs, to their aspirations, but also protective rather than violative. 

Then, of course, we had the military coup, and that brought all of that to a halt.  We saw again violence on the street, peaceful protesters being violently attacked.  And we again have now been able to mobilize to try and document what’s happening, but also to work really hard to bring Sudan back to a path towards a civilian-led government.  

We are working tirelessly behind the scenes and I hope – much of that is often not visible, but please rest assured that we have a very experienced team of diplomats.  We have our special envoy for the Horn of Africa, we have Ambassador Godfrey who’s working in Addis to reach the leadership, but also civilians who may be in a position to assume civilian leadership again in the future, also working with civil society.  We have our assistant secretary for the Africa Bureau, Molly Phee, working.  We have people in the region.  The Jeddah process has had fits and starts, but it offers a platform to be able to envision confidence-building measures and generally working towards getting the parties towards durable ceasefires and ultimately a full-scale cessation of hostilities.  And then we have, of course, Ambassador Rubinstein, who was sort of called out of retirement in order to give focused attention to the Jeddah process. 

So we’re trying to work not only with our own contacts across the U.S. Government, but also to empower and work with partners in the region who are playing really important roles in terms of offering their good offices, in terms of providing regional support.  The Intergovernmental Authority on Development has been incredibly important in this regard, as has the African Union.   

So it’s a full-scale effort and the Sudanese people really deserve to live a life of peace and stability, and that’s all – what we’re all hoping for.  Thanks for your question, Pearl. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We’ll go quickly back to one of our submitted questions.  This comes from Ms. Aya Sayed from Roayah News Network in Egypt.  She asks:  “Would the U.S. takes concrete measures to cease atrocities and hold those who committed war crimes accountable?” 

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Yes, thanks so much, Aya.  I think the first step is really to bring about a cessation of hostilities, and that’s what we’re trying to do on the diplomatic front, as I mentioned, working with likeminded partners to really try and bring the parties together so that they can find common ground and ultimately get back to a pathway towards a civilian-led government, which is what the Sudanese people deserve. 

At the same time, international crimes have been committed.  That is the basis for our atrocities determination, but also a lot of the reporting done by journalists, by human rights organizations, by our Conflict Observatory.  And so there will need to be measures of accountability.  The options, of course, are as I’ve outlined them.  The ICC will have jurisdiction over events in Darfur and it will be for courts around the world elsewhere to take up these cases as they fall within their particular jurisdiction.   

We also need to continue to urge the parties to cease attacks, deliberate attacks, on civilians to release individuals who have been unlawfully held, to – if they are held on some valid or legitimate suspicion, to treat them humanely.  That is the touchstone of any form of custodial arrangement.  It must – people must be treated humanely and be provided due process if there are legitimate charges against them, but also continue to emphasize the importance of protecting women and girls, men and boys from deliberate violence.  And that is a message that we’re constantly delivering in all of our engagements with the two warring parties.  

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We have a live question from Simon Marks of Bloomberg News in Kenya.  Can you open the line, please? 

QUESTION:  Hi there.  Hi.  Can you hear me okay? 

MODERATOR:  Yeah.  Hi, Simon. 

QUESTION:  Hi there.  Hello, Ambassador.  Thanks a lot for doing this briefing.  I just wanted to ask:  So a large part of this conflict has obviously been the involvement of proxies supplying both sides with weapons and in some cases, drones.  And I just wondered, has the U.S. managed to speak to anyone in the UAE – in the United Arab Emirates about their involvement in providing weapons and drones to the RSF?  And if so, what kind of pressure are you putting on them?  Could you – are there – could there be any punitive measures down the line to help prevent this from taking place? 

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Yeah, thank you, Simon.  We have consistently spoken to a number of regional partners about the importance of not providing weapons or other materiel to either party to the conflict.  It will only lead to the escalation.  We need to be moving towards peace, not providing materiel that will enable this conflict to continue.  I can’t speak to particular conversations – obviously those are happening on a confidential basis – but rest assured that we’re very focused on that. 

We’re also really looking for ways to use some of our many sanctions authorities to put pressure on individuals and entities that are undermining peace in the region.  So back in May, we announced a new executive order – President Biden announced – that will allow for the designation of those responsible for targeting civilians and other serious human rights abuses.  We have designations under that new authority for companies that are generating revenues from or contributing to the conflict.  We’ve also been able to use visa restrictions on particular individuals and other commanders who are engaged in abuses.  So we’re trying to think about financial tools, legal tools, documentation tools in order to shed a light on what’s happening, but also to really encourage regional parties not to exacerbate the conflict by providing arms or materiel to one side or another.   

And we should remind all parties that there is an existing arms embargo that dates back to 2005: Resolution 1591 at the UN Security Council.  That embargo remains in place.  And so any weapons that are being used in Darfur are in violation of – or being provided to parties in Darfur – are in violation of a longstanding arms embargo.  And so that would trigger UN Charter obligations of all member states.   

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We have another live question from Nafisa Eltahir of Reuters in Egypt.  If you could open the line, please?   

QUESTION:  Hi.  Thank you for having this briefing.  I wanted to ask if the shelling and airstrikes that have been happening in Khartoum and in Darfur and other places have – were kind of considered as part of this determination and whether you can speak a little bit more to that.  Because I think that’s gotten a little bit less attention than some of the other horrible things that have happened.  Thank you.   

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Yes.  Thank you, Nafisa.  You’re right.  That’s really an important element of the violence that we’re seeing.  We know, of course, that the laws of war demand that civilians and civilian objects – the civilian infrastructure – are immune from deliberate attack.  And so warring parties are only supposed to engage with military objectives, so with troops or with military materiel, weapons, caches, et cetera.  Unfortunately, we do see that some of these military objectives are within civilian areas.  And so the message is always that the parties need to be extremely precise and deliberate in engaging with those military objectives so that they don’t inadvertently harm civilians that are in the immediate vicinity.   

There is a principle of proportionality that is in play here, where you’re allowed to target military objectives, but you must do so with a level and degree of force that is proportionate to the value of that military objective.  And when you have military objectives collocated with civilians, that proportionality analysis becomes extremely important.  So part of our messaging with the parties has been to adhere to their responsibilities and take all measures possible to protect civilian life but also to protect the civilian infrastructure.   

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We have a question that came in the Q&A from Kelvin Muchiri from kenyans.co.ke.  Question:  “Do you feel like Kenya has helped in its – in the best way it could seeing it has been participating in peacekeeping in Somalia and Congo and even the parliament-approved Kenyan army to go to Haiti?”   

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Yes, indeed.  Kenya has really stepped up in a number of ways becoming in many respects a leader in the region but also internationally.  Your mention of Kenya’s involvement in the really crucial and critical Haitian peacekeeping mission, it’s incredibly important to their willingness to step forward and take on that global responsibility.  We call upon all nations in the region to help bring about peace and security within the East Africa region, and of course, the situation in Sudan being the most acute situation at present.   

But Kenya, I think, can also support transitional justice, can support justice.  They have their own national system and have had some very important cases.  I’m thinking in particular of the “Baby Pendo” case, which is one of the first domestic crimes against humanity cases emerging from post-election violence in Kenya.  So, lots to be celebrated and encouraged in terms of the role that Kenya is playing here.  

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  I’d like to go to – if we could take a question live from Israel Ojoko from the Breaking News Network in Nigeria.  Could you open the line, please? 

QUESTION:  Hello, good afternoon.  Can you hear me?  

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Yes, hi, Israel.  

QUESTION:  Okay, yeah.  Good afternoon.   

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Good afternoon. 

QUESTION:  Okay, so yeah, we know that Sudan is on the Sahel region of Africa, and of course, Sahel region is a place where Russia and the Wagner Group are trying to establish a strong foot.  We’ve seen what has – what has happened in Mali, Burkina Faso, and recently Niger, and the Wagner Group making this statement in those region – that region.   

So my question is:  What is the U.S. response to this?  Like, what, I mean, the U.S. is doing in terms of security in the Sahel region, like curtailing the expansion of Russia and the Wagner Group on this region?  Thank you. 

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Yeah, thank you, Israel, so much for that question.  We have obviously been tracking the work of the Wagner Group for many, many years, and you’re absolutely right that they have infiltrated many areas across the Sahel, and I would add the Central African Republic to the list of states that you mentioned.  And what we have seen consistently over the years is everywhere that Wagner has been deployed or is operating, it has a malign influence.  We see violence against civilians; we see undermining the security of the state; we see, in some respects, states becoming very dependent on Wagner and then Wagner being rapacious in natural resources. 

So you may have seen that the United States has designated Wagner as a transnational criminal organization, and we got some pushback on that.  There were questions about whether or not they should have been designated as a terrorist organization.  And our conclusion was that they are at base a criminal organization.  They do not have the best interests of the countries at heart where they are operating, or the people of those countries.  Rather, Wagner is there to enrich itself – to enrich itself on natural resources, to find ways to strengthen its hand.  With respect to what should be the sort of collective heritage of those countries, they in fact take that for their own self-interest and lining their own pockets, essentially. 

So our message across the Sahel has been do not invite Wagner in, do not assume that they are a solution to your security problems.  The solution is to build up a credible armed force, credible police forces, and to work with partners across the international community who are willing and able to invest in capacity-building to build your own internal ability to provide security for your people.  Wagner is just not a credible solution to that, and I do hope that new states across the region are able to see the negative influence that Wagner has had in Mali, in the Central African Republic, elsewhere, and will take that as a lesson learned and not go down that route.   

So thank you, Israel, so much, for bringing our attention to that and that phenomenon in the region. 

MODERATOR:  Thanks.  If you don’t mind, we have time for just one more question.  We had one that was submitted — 

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Okay. 

MODERATOR:  — thanks – by Sebastien Nemeth from Radio France International, getting back to some of the accountability again:  “Is the U.S. gathering evidence in the field against RSF and SAF regarding war crimes and crime against humanity suspicions?  And are there judicial procedures that will be initiated in the U.S. or at the ICC?” 

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Yeah.  Thank you so much, Sebastien.  So we are at any given moment continuing to collect information about what’s going on, as I mentioned, from a whole range of sources – our own kind of intelligence sources, but also credible sources that are able to look at the open-source data and put that data through important analytical processes in order to see patterns that might be very useful in terms of ascribing responsibility or intent, et cetera.   

So all of that information is being gathered for our own purposes in terms of understanding the conflict, but we have in the past been able to share that information with accountability mechanisms.  This includes commissions of inquiry that might be created by the United Nations; we have been able to set up arrangements to share and exchange notes with those organizations on what they’re seeing, what we’re seeing.  We are also able to provide practical assistance to the International Criminal Court.  Even though we’re not a member of the Rome Statute that created the court, we have set up a very constructive relationship with the court in order to provide various forms of practical assistance.  And we’ve been able to do that with respect to the Darfur investigation in particular. 

In addition, we have our own ability to do these cases.  We need to have the presence of an accused in the United States in order to be able to assert war crimes charges against them, unless they are a U.S. national or unless a U.S. national or a U.S. dual national is somehow harmed as the victim of a war crime.  So that is a limitation of our law, but of course we will be ready to move quickly if there is a fact pattern that emerges that suggests that a dual national has been involved in war crimes.  That would give our courts jurisdiction.  And I know that courts around the world are also standing ready.  There are war crimes units, and France has its own war crimes unit.  There are war crimes units that now are increasingly interoperable.  They’re sharing information, they’re sharing techniques in the European realm, they’re operating under the Eurojust network, which is based in The Hague- which is the city of peace and justice.  They meet regularly in order to talk about live cases, challenges to doing this work, looking for ways that they can advance each other’s case load and docket. 

We also have a network of mutual legal assistance treaties with a number of different states.  And so if a case is moving forward in a state with which we have a mutual legal assistance treaty, we have a very easy way to be able to share the information that we have been collecting. 

And so the situation now in international justice is such that we – it’s really an ecosystem, as we describe it.  There are many, many nodes to that ecosystem, and they’re all interlinked.  And so it becomes much easier now for different states of the world to support each other as they pursue justice for places like Sudan but elsewhere around the world.   

So thank you for the question, Sebastien, and to everyone for your really very informed and interesting questions. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Before we close, Ambassador Van Schaack, did you have any final words for our journalists? 

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  No, just again to reiterate my thanks for (a) all of your really careful coverage.  It’s a dangerous situation, and I know that many of you are putting yourselves at personal risk to travel to these regions in order to be able to cover them firsthand, and to hear from survivors themselves so that those of us outside the region are able to learn more about what’s going on so that we can inform and strengthen our own efforts to try and bring about a cessation of hostilities, bring the parties together, and chart a path forward for a civilian-led democratic future for the Sudanese people.  So we’re really very grateful for all of your hard work, and want to acknowledge that. 

I’m also really glad to hear that we’ve had a – been able to have a focused attention.  The world is really a difficult place right now.  There’s conflicts everywhere, and it’s hard to have the bandwidth to be able to cover them.  And so we owe the Sudanese people our comprehensive attention here.  And so thank you so much for your coverage, and also for the State Department to setting up this briefing. 

MODERATOR:  Thank you.  And with that, that will conclude today’s call and briefing.  I want to thank Ambassador Beth Van Schaack, the U.S. Department of State’s Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice, for speaking to us today, and to thank all of you journalists for participating.  If you have any questions about today’s briefing, you may contact the Africa Regional Media Hub at AFMediaHub@state.gov.  Thank you. 

AMBASSADOR VAN SCHAACK:  Bye, everyone. 

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U.S. Department of State

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