Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in the region of Darfur, western Sudan, may die in the coming months unless something is done to end the conflict, provide security for civilians caught in the conflict, , and gain unfettered humanitarian access to the region. Since the outbreak of violence in February 2003, more than 30,000 people have been killed; over 1 million people have been uprooted with most languishing in camps without food, medicine and shelter. More than 200,000 others have sought refuge in neighboring Chad where they continue to be subjected to further violence by Janjaweed militia forces from Sudan. Women and young girls have been systematically raped, villages have been bombed and burned, and water and land resources have been poisoned and destroyed.
This human carnage is a direct result of violence and harassment against the Fur, Zaghawa and Masaalit black African ethnic groups by Arab militia groups known as Janjaweed, supported by the Government in Khartoum. The Government in Khartoum argues that they are engaged in an armed conflict against two rebel groups, the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLMA/A) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), engaged in armed struggle to achieve full respect for human rights and end the political and economic marginalization of African tribes in Darfur. Historical grievances between the different ethnic groups in Darfur have existed, but the recent and more lethal waves of violence appear to reflect the increasing role played by political and military leaders in Sudan and Chad who exploit local tensions in order to consolidate power in their respective capitals. While all parties to the conflict have been accused of human rights abuses, the Government in Khartoum bears the greatest responsibility for the violence and also in helping to bring an end to this conflict.
What Must Be Done:
We ask that you write or call (see below) the White House, your senators, your representative and newly-appointed U.N. Ambassador John Danforth and urge urge that the U.S. government press the Security Council to immediately pass a Darfur-specific resolution that comprehensively responds to the present emergency and lays the groundwork for sustainable peace. It should:
- Condemn the Government in Khartoum for its participation in a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Dafur, its support of Arab Janjaweed militias, its bombing of villages, and for the administrative and other obstacles used to block delivery of urgently needed humanitarian relief;
- Call on the Government to provide security for internally displaced persons, and ensure refugees and displaced persons can return to their lands in safety and security;
- Pressure the Government to provide unimpeded humanitarian access to all regions in Darfur by international relief agencies;
- Strengthen the capacity of the Africa Union in its efforts to monitor violations of the ceasefire agreements signed by all parties to the conflict, and to monitor human rights abuses;
- Pressure the Government in Khartoum to disarm and demobilize the Janjaweed militias; and
- Urge the international community to provide the U.N. with financial and logistical support for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, including the use of air support.
For further information, please contact Fr. Michael A. Perry, OFM (email@example.com; 202-541-3149).
See /sdwp/international/callafrica/sudan.shtml for May 5, 2004 statement on Darfur and the letter from Bishop John Ricard to Secretary of State Colin Powell.
|For Letters, fax a copy to:
The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC 20500
|The Honorable John Danforth
Ambassador to the United Nations
799 UN Plaza
New York, NY 10017
|U.S. Congressional Switchboard:||202-224-3121|
Fax: go to: http://clerk.house.gov/members/index.html for a House directory or http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm for a Senate directory
Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194 (202) 541-3000