WASHINGTON (CNN) – Members of the Congressional Black Caucus urged President Obama on Tuesday to act on the humanitarian crisis in Sudan, including pressuring China to intervene in the mass killing of civilians in the African nation.
"We have to act," said Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia. "If we fail to act, we fail to do something, history will not be kind to any of us. This is genocide."
The Darfur conflict started in February 2003 when black African rebel groups attacked government property, accusing the government of neglecting Darfur in favor of the Arab population in Sudan. Darfur is a region in Sudan.
Lewis, who is also a civil rights activist, was arrested during a protest last month outside the embassy of Sudan in Washington. He and others called for expressions of solidarity such as fasting, petition drives and meetings with top U.S. envoys.
Actress Mia Farrow was a keynote speaker at a news conference lawmakers held near the U.S. Capitol. The actress said Obama has yet to affirm his strong statements made as a senator against the situation in Sudan.
"In 2007, then-Senator Obama said, '"when you see a genocide, whether it is in Rwanda or Bosnia or in Darfur, that is a stain on all of us. That is a stain on our souls,'" Farrow said. "Indeed it is. And where's the quote from our president in 2009? We don't have one."
Farrow, who fasted for 12 days in April before doctors said she was too ill to continue, said China should use its status as a major trading partner with Sudan to pressure the government toward reform.
Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat from Michigan, called for meetings with Obama and his special envoy for Sudan, Maj. Gen. Scott Gration, to seek immediate action.
Earlier this year, Sudan expelled various aid organizations, which worsened the refugee crisis, said Mohammed Yahya, a Darfur activist and citizen of Sudan.
"We haven't gotten enough food. We haven't gotten enough shelters," Yahya said. "We haven't gotten enough medicines, and we are dying right now, we are starving right now due to the expulsions of the humanitarian aid workers."
Rep. Donald Payne, a Democrat from New Jersey, said Americans can show solidarity by going without food to support the people of Sudan.
"Take a day to fast to psychologically and physically feel the pain of Darfur," Payne said.