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African Church Leaders Continue to Urge for International Intervention in Sudan

( [email protected] ) Sep 08, 2004 06:31 PM EDT

Christian leaders in Africa are urging the international community to take stern action against Khartoum after the United Nations deadline for Sudan to restore security to the war-torn Darfur region passed last week. So far no Security Council action has been planned, despite attempts by the U.S. and Britain to pursue a tougher line against Sudan.

According to a U.N. report released Wednesday, Khartoum had fulfilled some of its earlier pledges to the world body, but had done little to disarm the Janjaweed militia, accused of atrocities against the black Muslim community in Darfur.

However, CNS News reports that the statement did not recommend sanctions against Sudan, despite a July30 Security Council resolution that held out the prospect of actions against Khartoum if the government did not show after 30 days that it was fulfilling its promises to disarm the militia and restore security.

Jan Pronk, the U.N.'s special envoy to Sudan, called for an expanded multinational force to be sent to Darfur, to prevent an escalation of a conflict which has already cost an estimated 30-000-50,000 lives. Currently there are just 300 African Union troops there.

Sudan's Catholic bishops called on the international community to avoid further discussion and compromise. "We ask all concerned authorities to stop politicking. This is a time for action to save innocent people," the bishops said in a statement.

The bishops said that the lives of hundred of thousands of innocent people were at stake in Darfur, particularly children, the women and the elderly. There was therefore no room for further statements, discussions, or deliberations.

Meanwhile, in Nairobi, Rev. Mvume Dandala, the head of the All-African Council of Churches, said church leaders were unhappy with the world community's failure to take action on Sudan.

"Our concern is that the situation in [Darfur] should not divert attention from the south Sudan", said Dandala, referring to the fact that talks aimed at fine-tuning a peace agreement between Khartoum and southern rebels have been suspended as a result of the current crisis.

CNS reported that the peace deal between the government and rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) is intended to end a two-decade civil war between the Arab Muslim north and African Christian and animist south.

This week's U.N. report was released as the U.N.'s World Health Organization (WHO) warned about the chances of communicable disease outbreaks in the conflict zone.

The agency cited a number of health problems facing people who have been displaced as a result of the fighting, including malnutrition, hepatitis-E, acute respiratory infections, diarrhea, malaria and conflict-related trauma.

They said it was concerned about the lack of primary health care services, including insufficient supplies of essential medicines and lack of health personnel, both in Darfur and across the border in eastern Chad, where Darfurian refugees have fled.

According to the most recent report, Sudanese government delegates at peace talks being held for Sudan's Darfur region rejected a draft protocol presented by the talks' mediators, the African Union, on the sensitive issues of security and disarmament.

[Source: CNS]