South Africa Bishops Urge More Efforts for Zimbabwe and Sudan

Make Appeal Over Ongoing Crises

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, AUG. 20, 2004 ( The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference urged the international community to take stronger action to end the tragedies in Zimbabwe and Sudan.

«The Catholic Bishops decry the ongoing human suffering of their brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe and Sudan, and call on the Southern African Development Community, the African Union [AU], and the United Nations to take stronger action, including the consideration of targeted sanctions, to prevent further suffering,» an episcopal statement affirmed.

The statement was made at the conclusion of a meeting of the bishops’ conference Aug. 11.

«The Zimbabwean situation of starvation and malnutrition, willful political violence and intimidation, and the immoral use of food aid by the Zimbabwean government, demands stronger and transparent intervention by African governments through the AU,» the bishops stressed.

«With more than 3 million people displaced as a result of the crisis in Zimbabwe, a generation of exiles and refugees has been created,» they added. «This situation cannot be allowed to continue.»

«In Sudan,» the statement continued, «while tens of thousands have been killed and more than a million displaced in the Darfur region, thousands in other parts of Sudan, such as the Malakal district, silently face equally devastating violence at the hands of militias actively supported by the Khartoum government.»

«The U.N. investigation team issued a report on Aug. 6, 2004, stating that it cannot be doubted that the government of Sudan is ‘responsible’ for what has happened in Darfur. We ourselves have personally witnessed some of these atrocities during visits to Sudan,» the bishops said.

Because of this, «the African Union (AU) in particular must take action against the government of Sudan and exclude it from all AU organs such as its Human Rights Commission. In addition, pressure must be brought to bear on the government of Sudan to implement the African Union provisions on good governance and the promotion of human rights,» they added.

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