July 14, 2004
By Linda Green*
United Methodist News Service
destabilization threatens Sudan, the United Methodist Committee on
Relief is working with partners to expand support for what is being
called the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
Darfur region of western Sudan has suffered 16 months of armed
conflict. Nearly 30,000 residents have been killed and more than a
million people displaced.
United Methodist humanitarian agency is working through its ecumenical
partner, Action by Churches Together (ACT), to help people affected by
the militia attacks in Darfur maintain their basic daily activities with
dignity. The collaborative effort is also aimed at initially
stabilizing and then reducing the incidence of environmental
health-related diseases, said the Rev. Kristin Sachen, a staff executive
with UMCOR/Emergency Services International.
United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) supports relief and
development work in Sudan to meet immediate emergency needs and
long-term recovery solutions.
initiated an appeal for Sudan in June and UMCOR responded by sending an
initial $25,000. Sachen said the international faith community’s
response would provide for 500,000 people in areas designated by the UN
OCHA (coordinating body for
efforts would include work with people in camps in Chad and in the
communities that host the camps, as well as with people living in the
bush, irrespective of religion, race or political affiliation.
key items in the emergency response include shelter, water, toilets,
hygiene and promotion of public health, supplementary food, and non-food
items to set up a household. Primary health care,
educational services, psycho-social support, seeds and tools, and
advocacy will also be a part of this “holistic approach to what has been
referred to as the worst humanitarian disaster on the planet,” Sachen
situation in Darfur cries out for international attention and
intention. We must bring our political will to the efforts to
demilitarize the area and our compassion to bring healing to those who
have been so traumatized,” she said.
violation of human rights is on a huge scale, including rape, abduction
of children, killings, beatings and complete destruction of homes and
possessions,” Sachen added.
said United Methodists and others might wonder why there should be
interest in the Sudan when there are other places of concern in the
world. “If ever there was a time and place to witness to the power
of God who suffers with us, dies with us and resurrects with us ... the
refugee camps in Chad today are that place and time. Looking the other
way is not an option for people of faith,” she said.
an effort to focus more attention on the Sudan crisis, the Rev. Robert
Edgar, a United Methodist pastor and president of the National Council
of Churches, planned to be arrested July 14 in front of the Sudanese
Embassy in Washington. He follows U.S. Rep. Charles B. Rangel
(D-N.Y.) who was arrested July 13.
to the human-rights organization Christian Solidarity International
(CSI), Edgar, Rangel and the Congressional Black Caucus are demanding
that the Sudanese government end its support of rebels who are murdering
hundreds of people a day.
a comprehensive peace accord to end the 21-year civil war in Sudan was
signed May 26 by the Sudanese government and major rebel forces, the
accord is unrelated to the conflict in the Dufar region where fighting
between the government and rebels continue to raise fears of ethnic
and other protestors are demanding an end to the genocide in the Sudan
and the black caucus is demanding sanctions against the Sudanese
government. Like Rangel, others have been arrested while still other
high-profile individuals plan to be arrested. CSI notes that arrests
“will continue until the world community wakes up.”
sent a July 13 e-mail to peace colleagues and “friends in the faith
community” stating that the horror occurring in the Sudan cannot be
allowed to continue, as the people of faith and members of the human
family did in Rwanda 10 years ago.
the Darfur province of Sudan, more than a million black Africans have
been bombed and burned out of their villages, and chased into the desert
by government planes and Arab militias allied with the country’s
oppressive regime, he said. The camps are now surrounded, and anyone who
tries to leave is raped or killed, he added.
U.S. governmental estimates, which he called “conservative,” Edgar
said, 370,000 people are dead or certain of dying of starvation in
“these extermination camps.” The death toll could reach 1 million within
the next few months, he said.
United States has tough words for Sudan, but threats to act are mild,
suggesting only sanctions on the militia leaders, and perhaps later the
government,” he said. “The Sudanese are used to sanctions, and even the
toughest sanctions take months to have any impact. We don't have that
kind of time. Only one thing will stop the killing in Sudan: an
immediate international intervention to protect the people of Darfur and
deliver aid to them.”
requests that churches use an illustrative relief supplies cost list,
released in June by ACT, to encourage donations to UMCOR’s Sudan
Emergency, Advance #184385. The list and range of cost, which may be
found online at http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor/emergency/sudanact.stm, enables United Methodist congregations, groups, and individuals to choose the amount of their contribution.
to UMCOR’s Sudan Emergency, Advance #184385 will support relief
efforts. Donations can be sent to the General Advance, 475 Riverside
Drive, Room 330, New York, NY 10115. Checks should be designated for
Advance #184385. Call (800) 554-8583 to make a credit card donation.
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com