In an effort to help Sudanese who are increasingly in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, a Sudan Community Compensation proposal was presented to the Justice Department on September 2, 2015. (Read the summary in English, in Arabic, or download the PDF of full proposal.)
A large number of Sudanese diaspora leaders, human rights organizations, genocide scholars, and Sudan advocates signed on as supporters asking the U. S. Justice Department to use part of the billions of dollars it had available from the recent BNP Paribas (BNPP) settlement for sanctions violations to help Sudanese who are in dire need. See the supporters list. We had hoped that support from so many groups would encourage the Justice Department to allow money for humanitarian aid to begin to flow from the BNPP settlement to the Sudanese refugees and IDPs who are desperately in need of assistance.
Unfortunately, all possibilities of the Justice Department using its discretion to use BNPP settlement funds to support Sudan Community Compensation ended when Congress passed the Omnibus Budget act on December 18, 2015 allocating all the BNPP funds to terrorist victims in the US. As a result, of the $8.9 billion that BNPP paid for sanctions violations, most of which was with regard to Sudan, not one penny went to help the people harmed by BNPP’s illegal support for the government of Sudan.
On May 1, 2015, BNPP was sentenced to pay $8.9 billion for violations of U.S. sanctions. The Justice Department announced it was “exploring ways to use these forfeited funds to compensate individuals harmed by the sanctioned regimes of Sudan, Cuba, and Iran.” Of the $8.9 billion penalty, the Justice Department stated that $3.8 was available for potential compensation to people who were harmed by BNPP’s sanctions violations.
The Sudan Community Compensation proposal asked that a substantial part of the available BNPP settlement funds be placed in trust for the Sudanese communities who were harmed as a result of BNPP’s illegal behavior. These funds would address the most critical emergency humanitarian aid shortfalls and offer resources for future reconstruction and redevelopment projects for the affected Sudanese communities.
Because the humanitarian needs for Sudanese refugees and IDPs are so enormous and urgent, it was essential that the Department of Justice move as expeditiously as possible to initiate the Sudan Community Compensation Program and begin the flow of funds to existing aid agencies capable of helping with the most critical emergency aid requirements. See a recent collection of reports on aid shortfalls here.