The Independent Newsweekly
|NEWS FOR TODAY|
Posted Tuesday July 27, 2003 at 12:55 p.m. CDT
Continued calls for massive aid effort for Sudanese refugees
By Catholic News Service
MANCHESTER, England -- The British bishop in charge of the national church's refugee policy has called for a massive humanitarian aid effort for the Darfur region of Sudan, where more than a million people have been driven from their homes.
Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue of Lancaster said in a July 26 statement that the political situation in Sudan also needed to be addressed. He said Darfurians were in "urgent need of protection and aid to stem the threat of illnesses, hunger and death."
"This is not surprising as there are extreme shortages of water, food, shelter and latrines, which contribute to high levels of diarrhea among children, a major cause of death," the group said in a statement.
O'Donoghue said, "It is important that the Sudanese government and the international community work together to create a peaceful and secure environment, so that the people of Darfur, if they choose to, can return to their homes in safety and dignity," he said. The bishop also asked British Catholics to pray for peace and reconciliation in Sudan.
Aid agencies are saying the situation will deteriorate as the region's rainy season is about to begin, he said.
In May, Caritas Internationalis, the worldwide network of Catholic relief and development agencies, launched an urgent appeal to raise $1.5 million in aid for Sudanese refugees from Darfur.
More than a million people have been displaced by the region's violence, with 200,000 refugees fleeing into neighboring Chad. About 30,000 people, most of them black Africans, have been killed in Darfur.
International pressure has been mounting on the Sudanese government to crack down on Arab militias, improve security and provide better access for aid agencies. Both the United States and European Union are pushing for U.N. sanctions against Sudan.
The U.S. Congress passed a resolution July 23 labeling the massacres in Darfur as genocide. European Union officials refrained from calling the situation genocide, saying more evidence was needed.
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