Relief Agencies Team Up in Sudan

Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants Aim to Stave Off Disaster

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GENEVA, JUNE 16, 2004 ( Caritas Internationalis and Action by Churches Together International have joined forces to respond to the humanitarian emergency in Sudan’s Darfur province.

Both organizations are faith-based networks representing Catholic and Orthodox churches and Protestant denominations and their related agencies across the world.

The joint ecumenical response will be known as the ACT/Caritas Darfur Emergency Response, according to a statement issued today by Caritas Internationalis.

Caritas and ACT will issue a joint 18-month appeal in June. A year and a half is considered to be the shortest possible time needed for internally displaced people and refugees to return to their homes and resume their lives.

The estimated number of beneficiaries will be in excess of 125,000 people, mainly in Mershing and Ta’asha in South Darfur and Zalingi in West Darfur.

The situation in Sudan’s Darfur region is «extremely grave,» said Nils Carstensen, the leader of the ACT International coordination assessment, who recently returned from the area of conflict.

The violence has displaced more than 1 million people and caused more than 130,000 people to flee into neighboring Chad, where Caritas is providing assistance to more than 30,000 refugees.

ACT member Norwegian Church Aid is assisting some 45,000 refugees in three camps in Chad. In the Darfur area where ACT members are working, more than 67,000 displaced people are camped in public buildings and open areas.

Duncan MacLaren, secretary-general of Caritas Internationalis, added, «The latest reports predict the possibility of 1 million deaths from starvation if we do not act now. All of the U.N. organizations report a lack of funding. We urge all governments to realize the seriousness of the situation and commit funds to ensure as many lives as possible are saved.»

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