WHY THIS ISSUE IS IMPORTANT: Although the U.S. bishops were deeply gratified when the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved its version the “Darfur Peace and Accountability Act” (H.R. 3127) a few weeks ago, conference committee action will still be necessary to reconcile minor differences with the previously passed Senate version (S. 1462) of this bill. As indicated in their repeated calls for enactment of this legislation, the bishops hope that these measures will help to bring an end to the atrocities suffered by the people of Darfur in western Sudan, where innocent civilians remain trapped in the middle of violent clashes between the Sudanese army and rebel forces, as well as subject to inhuman cruelty at the hands of the janjaweed militia under the sponsorship of the government in Khartoum. In addition to the 400,000 people who have died since 2003, 2.5 million have been driven from their homes and 3.5 million are at risk of starvation.
In the face of the intolerable human suffering resulting from this brutal, government-sanctioned campaign against the people of Darfur, which the U.S. government has labeled genocide, we must answer the appeal of Pope Benedict XVI, last November. Our Holy Father stated that “The horror of events unfolding in Darfur, to which my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II referred on many occasions, points to the need for a stronger international resolve to ensure security and basic human rights. Today, I add my voice to the cry of the suffering and assure you that the Holy See … will continue to do everything possible to end the cycle of violence and misery.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Such encouraging legislative victories point to the need to redouble efforts to bring pressure to bear on the Sudanese government. If you haven’t already done so, now is the moment to make your voice heard by joining the Million Voices for Darfur Campaign. In support of our mission to follow the Gospel’s call to alleviate human suffering and promote justice throughout the world, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has joined the Save Darfur Coalition to stand against the heinous cruelty being inflicted on the innocent and to promote this campaign. The Coalition, an alliance of over 150 faith-based, humanitarian and human rights organizations, seeks to collect one-million postcards encouraging the President in his call for a stronger multinational force to protect the people of Darfur. These postcards are available both in paper and electronically (www.savedarfur.org).
For any diocese or parish that would like to do more to express solidarity with those suffering in Darfur, the Coalition is also inviting people to participate in the Save Darfur Rally on the afternoon of Sunday, April 30, on the National Mall in Washington, DC. Details are available on the website or by telephone at 202-478-6311 (voice) or 202-478-6196 (fax).
TAKE ACTION NOW! Make sure that your elected officials know that the American people stand by their commitment to the people of Darfur. Please tell the President and Congress today that the United States must make protecting the innocent civilians of Darfur a top priority. Remind our leaders that the American people cannot remain on the sidelines in the face of killings, rape and wanton destruction. As Bishop Ricard stated in a call to action on behalf of the bishops last September, “The crisis in Darfur must be ended. We cannot stand idly by while human life is threatened. The United States and the international community can and must do more to end this moral and humanitarian crisis.”
As an especially effective way of doing this, you may wish to take advantage of the materials provided by the Save Darfur Coalition, since these postcards—both electronic and handwritten—will be delivered to the President and Congress at the Save Darfur Rally at the end of the month. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to join a million voices crying out to save Darfur.
For more information, contact:
Theodore Rectenwald, Policy Advisor - African Affairs, 202-541-3149, TRectenwald@usccb.org