WASHINGTON (April 3, 2000) -- Citing two million dead and twice that many displaced by the 16-year civil war in Sudan, Cardinal Bernard Law today called for renewed efforts by the international community to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in that African nation.
"The end of the war would not resolve all of Sudan's problems, but it would make it possible to address some of the most egregious suffering of the people of the Sudan -- hunger, millions of displaced, economic underdevelopment, and slavery," said Cardinal Law, chairman of the U.S. Catholic Conference International Policy Committee.
Specifically, he urged the United States to support the current peace process sponsored by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). He said the United States should help strengthen IGAD's mandate and "bring additional pressure on the Khartoum regime and opposition groups to make a good faith effort to end the war."
In the meantime, Cardinal Law also said other steps should be taken to ease the suffering of the peoples of Sudan and to promote a peaceful end to the conflict. Profits from a recently opened oil pipeline should be directed to those most affected by the war, especially inhabitants of southern Sudan.
"Food aid and other humanitarian and development assistance must be an urgent priority," Cardinal Law said. And "'civil society' initiatives, critical building blocks in constructing the basis for a lasting peace, are in need of additional aid."
Cardinal Law pledged the support of the Catholic Church in the United States, especially through Catholic Relief Services, the Bishops' international relief and development agency. He specifically cited support for efforts to respond to human rights abuses, for peace initiatives and educational undertaken by the churches of Sudan, and encouraging the sending of missionaries to Sudan.
Sudan, a nation in northeastern Africa, has a population of 27.9 million, of which 2.3 million are Catholic. The civil war there pits the mostly Arab and Muslim North against the mostly Black African South where Christianity and traditional African religions are practiced. Religious liberty is severely restricted for Christians.
"The violence and repression in Sudan cannot, indeed, must not continue," Cardinal Law said. "The people of Sudan yearn for a just peace. They cry for an end to the enslavement of their women and children. They yearn to be free from indiscriminate violence and the constant threat of famine. ... It is long past time for the international community to overcome its indifference toward the humanitarian nightmare in Sudan."
NOTE: The full text of Cardinal Law's statement is available on the Web at: www.nccbuscc.org/comm/archive/00-076a.shtml