10/01/2015 04:48PM EDT
Advocates for refugees fleeing violence in Sudan are pressing the Justice Department to devote billions from a recent settlement with BNP Paribas for humanitarian aid.
DOJ has said it would make available $3.8 billion of the $8.9 billion BNP was ordered to pay for violating U.S. sanctions on certain officials in the country, according to a settlement struck last year that included a guilty plea. The advocates, which range from human rights groups to genocide scholars, have proposed establishing a fund they say will pay for food and healthcare for victims. Some advocates have been frustrated with officials they say have been slow to make a decision, and they fear it may take years for money from the settlement to reach those in need.
The groups point out that the Darfur genocide began during the period BNP helped government officials evade sanctions. In September, a group of lawmakers asked Attorney General Loretta Lynch to use some of the BNP settlement for humanitarian aid in Sudan.
Eric Reeves, a Sudan researcher and one of the authors of the proposal, said that DOJ must “move as expeditiously as possible” to “begin the flow of funds to existing aid agencies capable of helping with the most critical emergency aid requirements.”