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Issue Date:  August 27, 2004

Conditions in Darfur continue to deteriorate

LONDON -- Christian aid agencies report that conditions for the more than 1 million displaced persons in Darfur, western Sudan, and refugees in eastern Chad are deteriorating. A joint Caritas Internationalis and Action by Churches Together team working in the region reported that the onset of the rainy season has made access to remote areas increasingly difficult, and as the season continues over the next few weeks, the situation can only get worse.

A new report from Human Rights Watch, “Empty Promises: Continuing Abuses in Darfur, Sudan,” says armed militias have continued to commit atrocities against civilians in Darfur, Sudan’s troubled western region.

Instead of disarming the Janjawid militias, Khartoum has begun incorporating them into police and other security forces that could be used to secure proposed “safe areas” for displaced civilians, the report said.

The United Nations, which has described the current situation in Darfur as “the worst humanitarian crisis,” says more than 1.2 million people have been displaced in Darfur. More than 180,000 others have fled to neighboring Chad.

In other developments:

  • The U.S.-based Save Darfur Coalition, a network of more than 70 faith-based and humanitarian groups designated Aug. 25 as a national Interfaith Day of Conscience to draw attention to the slaughter and other violence that has occurred in the war-torn region.
  • Lutheran World Relief has accepted a $500,000 gift from Pierre and Pamela Omidyar, the founders of eBay, to help address the Sudanese humanitarian crisis.
  • The Union for Reform Judaism announced it has created a Sudan Relief Fund to address the needs of victims in the Darfur region.
  • Over the past 12 weeks CAFOD, the English and Welsh Catholic bishops’ aid agency, has raised $3.6 million in emergency aid for the Sudanese of Darfur.
  • The chairman of the U.S. bishops’ international policy committee, Bishop John H. Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla., visited Sudan Aug. 1-5. He said there was “no question” that the killings in the Darfur region of Sudan represented ethnic cleansing.
  • The U.S. bishops also called for a special collection for Sudan that was to be held in parishes throughout the United States Aug. 22.

National Catholic Reporter, August 27, 2004

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