Halt to Genocide in Darfur Region of Sudan Is Urged

NGO Appeal to Franciscans for Help

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NEW YORK, JULY 16, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Franciscans International is encouraging Franciscans worldwide to work to stop the genocide taking placing in the Darfur region of Sudan.

«The Arab government of Sudan and the government-backed Arab Janjaweed militia are systemically denying black African Muslims access to food and water,» the nongovernmental organization said in a statement.

«Over 30,000 people have died already during this 18-month conflict and an estimated 1 million people will die, mostly from starvation and disease, if action is not taken,» FI said.

«Many humanitarian aid groups are active in the area and the U.N. is considering placing a peacekeeping mission there as well,» the statement added. «FI encourages Franciscans to support U.N. efforts, and to write to their government representatives and ask them to take action to stop the genocide in Sudan.»

Similar fears about the Darfur region were raised recently by the U.S. bishops.

In a June 28 letter to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Bishop John Ricard of Pensacola-Tallahassee, chairman of the U.S. episcopal Committee on International Policy, expressed «grave concern about the humanitarian catastrophe» in the Darfur region.

The region is where, he said, «the lives of tens of thousands of Black African Sudanese, primarily Muslims, have been lost and where hundreds of thousands of others are in danger.»

«Catholic Relief Services and our other Church partners on the ground who are providing humanitarian assistance to those most affected testify to the suffering of the people of Darfur, the scores of women and young girls who have been raped, and the systematic destruction of villages, fields and water sources by government forces and their Arab Janjaweed collaborators,» he added.

«Unless these militias are stopped and unfettered humanitarian access is granted by the government in Khartoum, many more innocent lives will be lost,» Bishop Ricard said.

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