The joint Action by Churches Together (ACT) International and Caritas Internationalis flew in a planeload of urgently needed relief supplies to Nyala, Southern Darfur on Sunday, June 20. The plane contained food supplies, emergency shelter equipment, clean water, sanitation and vehicles. They will be transported to nearby camps to help the ongoing humanitarian emergency in the Darfur region.
This is the first time for the two global networks together providing a truly ecumenical response to the needs of the people of Darfur. The joint mission is known as ACDER (ACT/Caritas Darfur Emergence Programme), will issue a joint 18-month appeal shortly to continue to the work of ACT members and partners Norwegian Church Aid, the Sudan Council of Churches and Sudan Development Organization and Sudanaid of the Sudan Catholic Church.
On Saturday, members of the ACDER team distributed plastic sheeting and blankets to 20,000 people in Mershing camp, 85km northwest of Nyala. It is urgent to distribute the plastic sheeting to provide adequate shelter now since the rainy season has begun which will deteriorate the sanitation situation in the camps rapidly; it will also increase the threat of water-borne diseases.
It is estimated that more than 125,000 displaced people will be the beneficiaries of the program. ACDER will also be providing seeds and tools that are urgently needed, to around 10,000 villagers in order that they do not miss the planting season which is just commencing.
The Church World Service (CWS), the international humanitarian agency, are partnering with ACT to consolidate current activities at four sites in the Darfur region: in Nyala, Mershing, Taasha, and Zalingi. They plan to increase these activities in the next few weeks, but work will depend on access to the area and security, according to Daniel Tyler of Church World Service in Nairobi, Kenya.
After a week-long assessment mission in Sudan, the leader of CWS affirmed the view of the United Nations and other international organizations that the situation in Darfur is the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet. Apart from food assistance, they consider that protection and security are as important.
“The needs in Darfur and Chad are immense under any circumstances, but with the recalcitrance of the Sudanese government, the situation is of untenable and tragic proportions,” said Tyler.
According to CSW, Rev. John L. McCullough, executive director and CEO, announced that the agency is calling for:
-The government of Sudan to halt the killing, disarm the militia, and allow full, unimpeded access for humanitarian workers and supplies.
-The establishment of a peacekeeping force by an international body – the United Nations and/or the African Union – to restore order and provide protection for refugees and humanitarian and relief workers.
-The government of Sudan to provide full access to humanitarian groups into Darfur, and to facilitate humanitarian assistance to affected populations by making all government resources available for the delivery of aid.