President Barack Obama, who has made ending the Darfur crisis a top foreign policy goal, has named retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Gration as U.S. special envoy to Sudan.

Gration, a foreign policy adviser for the Obama administration, has deep experience in the region. He speaks Swahili and grew up in Africa as the son of missionaries, according to a U.S. State Department release.

Gration was with Obama in 2006 when he visited Africa, including stops to visit Darfur refugees in Chad, which borders Sudan, the release stated.

"General Gration’s personal and professional background, and his service to the country as both a military leader and a humanitarian, give him the insights and experience necessary for this assignment," Obama said in a White House announcement.

His appointment as special envoy to Sudan comes at a crucial time as the Darfur crisis worsens after the International Criminal Court’s decision to pursue charges against President Omar al-Bashir.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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