WASHINGTON (September 22, 2000) -- In a strongly worded statement, the President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/U.S. Catholic Conference condemned the bombing of a Catholic health clinic in southern Sudan, calling the action by the Sudanese government "reprehensible."
Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston called on the U.S. government and the international community to exert "full diplomatic pressure on the government in Khartoum to stop" indiscriminate bombing on civilian targets in southern Sudan.
"This act continues a systematic program employed by the government of Sudan against the civilian population living in southern Sudan," he said, citing several instances in the last two months.
The full text of Bishop Fiorenza's statement follows: "I deplore the bombing of the Catholic health clinic and residential neighborhoods in Narus in southern Sudan on September 18, 2000 by the government in Khartoum. These bombings resulted in the killing of one person, the wounding of four women and two children, and the destruction of a number of homes and of the vital health center which had contributed to the well-being of many Sudanese in the surrounding areas.
"This reprehensible act must be condemned in clear and unequivocal terms by the international community and the U.S. government.
"This act continues a systematic program of terror employed by the government of Sudan against the civilian population living in southern Sudan. In August, the government in Khartoum conducted aerial bombings on civilian targets, resulting in loss of life and the destruction of homes, property and agricultural production. Humanitarian assistance programs were also disrupted, thus increasing the suffering of the people of southern Sudan. On September 14, government planes bombed the displaced persons' camp at Ikotos, wounding two people, destroying 25 homes and damaging an additional 56 homes.
"We join our voice with that of the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Sudan in condemning the indiscriminate bombings of civilian targets by the government of Sudan. We call upon the U.S. government and the international community to exercise full diplomatic pressure on the government in Khartoum to stop all such bombings. We call upon all Christians, Muslims and others to pray for the victims, and for an end to the war in the Sudan."