The conflict in the Dafur region of Sudan has finally received concern at a worldwide level, after the U.S. Secretary of State and the General Secretary of the United Nations visited the sites of intense violence last week. However, even before the two heads made their trips, Christian humanitarians agencies have noted the signs of ethnic cleansing and “mysterious disappearances” of a whole people-group, and have rallied support to relieve “the world’s largest humanitarian crises.”
“It’s tragically ironic,” comments CWS Executive Director and CEO Rev. John L. McCullough, “that we celebrated our own Independence Day in the United States over the weekend, as more than a million people in one region of one country are either dead, uprooted, victims of violence, homeless, suffering, and starving.”
McCullough, in reference to the U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell’s visit, said he hopes the official would not underestimate the extent of the damage in the war-torn nation.
“We hope that Colin Powell was not misled by what reports indicate were a judiciously guided tour of Abu Shouk, one of the better assisted IDP camps in the region,” McCullough.
In noting the events of the Mestel camp, where an estimated one thousand residents were “emptied overnight” just before the U.N. General Secretary Kofi Annan’s visited, McCullough said, “We also hope that Mr. Annan will continue to pursue the truth in Darfur and not be daunted by visits to camps that have quickly and mysteriously been emptied of their inhabitants.”
Following their early July trips both Powell and Annan pressured the Sudanese government to stop the genocide and prevent starvation and disease on a massive scale.
Meanwhile, CWS reported that it has issued a $1.75 million fundraising appeal to provide assistance to those afflicted in the impoverished nation. CWS also announced, on July 8, of the launching of a nationwide direct mail campaign targeted at grassroots, faith community and government levels.
CWS has members on the ground, along with UN AID agencies and World Relief.
As many as 30,000 people have died in the past 16 months in the Sudanese violence, and more than 130,000 of these people fled into neighboring Chad.
World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals, said it is responding to the dire situation through its partnership with the Evangelical Alliance in Chad. Chadian villagers have been bringing food and water to the Sudanese refugees, and with the help of World Relief, the chadian church partners have already begun “camp construction projects” to build wells, water and sanitation outlets and tents.
However, World Relief noted that the Chadians, who live in straw huts and mud houses, are “reaching their limits” and that “the rainy season is about to begin and the plight of families is only expected to get worse.”
For more information on the crisis please visit: http://www.wr.org/where_we_work/africa/sudan/sudans_darfur_conflict.asp
Contributions to support relief work in Darfur may be sent to the Church World Service Sudan-Darfur Crisis Appeal #640B. Secure contributions may be made online visit our website at www.churchworldservice.org http://www.churchworldservice.org/ or sent to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN, 46515.