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German Bishops' Statement on Sudan "Increased International Pressure on the Government of Sudan Needed"
Protecting people against violence – restoring security – providing aid
Joint Statement by Bishop Wolfgang Huber, Chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, and Karl Cardinal Lehmann, President of the German Bishops' Conference, on the situation in Sudan
Last week, the Sudanese government and the rebels of the South signed a general peace agreement. This was an important step towards a settlement of Africa's longest civil war and is a sign of hope for the entire continent. In the meantime, a new war in the Darfur region, West Sudan, has assumed alarming dimensions. Ethnically motivated expulsions, mass killings and rapes committed by government-supported militia forces are nothing unusual. Quite a few observers fear that this is the beginning of another genocide like that in Rwanda ten years ago. In the course of this domestic conflict, the government in Khartoum is apparently prepared to take brutal action sacrificing thousands of human lives and initiating or at least tolerating crimes against humanity and severest human rights violations.
Based on official appraisals, the international Caritas network and diaconal emergency relief assume that 130,000 Sudanese refugees have fled to neighboring Chad and that there are much more than one million refugees in Darfur. More than 30,000 people are assumed to have died so far, another 350,000 are threatened to die of starvation. UN observers say that this is the severest humanitarian catastrophe of our time. The international community is now called to take urgent action.
We appreciate that the German government and opposition have come to an understanding to take efforts towards a concrete and immediate settlement of the dramatic situation. This includes the allocation of funds for immediate humanitarian help as well as the German government's commitment to speak up for a comprehensive arms embargo against Sudan within the United Nations Security Council.
We call upon the German government and upon the governments of all countries which are represented in the UN Security Council to take urgent action towards a settlement of the conflict and to make sure that relief agencies are given safe access to the crisis region. Furthermore, the Security Council should urgently pass and implement the resolutions necessary for the immediate restoration of security in Darfur and for a safe return of the refugees to their villages. The government of Sudan must be given to understand that the Security Council will be ready to authorize a robust mandate, if necessary, to avert another genocide. In addition, we strongly recommend that the African Union's observing mission is continued with the support of the European Union. Only the immediate and comprehensive monitoring of the ceasefire, and, if necessary, its enforcement, will allow the refugees to return to their homes and to benefit from emergency relief in Darfur.
The following days and weeks are considered to be crucial for the coordination of international aid because the rainy season is approaching and vast parts of the region will be inaccessible or will be accessible only by air. It is not only the international community of states which is obliged to take action. We are all called to make our contribution and to help the people in Darfur. In cooperation with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the Caritas service of the Catholic church is providing aid to more than 36,000 refugees in three (of six) camps. The diaconal service of the Evangelical church and its partners are securing fresh water supply for approximately 30,000 refugees in Chad. Above that, the Church Development Service, Brot für die Welt and Misereor have already taken reconstruction initiatives in the entire crisis region. We appeal for solidary help for the needy and urgently ask for donations.
Caritas international, Freiburg. Donations account 202. Bank für Sozialwirtschaft Karlsruhe, bank sort code: 660 205 00. Key word "Sudan".
Diakonie, Katastrophenhilfe. Donations account 502 707. Postbank Stuttgart, bank sort code: 600 100 70. Key word "Sudan".
Hannover/Bonn, June 2, 2004
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