WASHINGTON (November 17, 2004) -– The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, meeting here today, called for international pressure on Sudan, including the possibility of targeted sanctions, to restore peace and security to Darfur.
"The government in Khartoum must be held accountable by the international community for the violence it continues to perpetrate against its own people, for its failure to implement [United Nations] Security Council resolutions 1556 and 1564, and for promoting insecurity throughout Darfur," said the statement, which will be issued in the name of the USCCB President Wilton D. Gregory. The full body of bishops endorsed the statement by a voice vote. The bishops' statement enumerates a litany of injustices perpetrated against the African population of the Darfur region by government forces and government-backed Arab militias:
- 100,000 people killed since April 2003;
- more than 1.5 million civilians forcibly displaced and surviving in camps;
- raids on camps for the displaced;
- an estimated 175,000 deprived of food aid in October.
The United Nations Security Council will meet this week in Nairobi, Kenya – only the fourth time they have ever met outside of New York – to focus on the situation in Darfur.
"This meeting could also provide the Security Council with an opportunity to unite its member states in order to act more forcefully in defense of peace," the bishops said. "The Security Council should consider imposing targeted sanctions and an arms embargo to ensure compliance on the part of the Government in Khartoum."
They also called on the United States and the international community to provide immediate financial and logistical support for the African Union monitors in Darfur so they can act more quickly "to protect innocent civilians, ensure safe delivery of humanitarian assistance, monitor ceasefire violations, and improve the security situation throughout Darfur."
NOTE: The full text of the statement is available on the Web at: www.usccb.org