U.S. Bishop Urges Pressure on Government in Khartoum

«They Make Promises but I Saw Few Results on the Ground» in Sudan

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WASHINGTON, D.C., AUG. 20, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The chairman of the bishops’ Committee on International Policy said the United States must exercise even more leadership to prevent a worsening of the crisis in Sudan.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Bishop John Ricard asked for a meeting and urged the United States to take a series of steps to alleviate what has been called the «worst humanitarian crisis in the world.»

The bishop recently completed a fact-finding trip to Sudan. He and other officials visited refugee camps in Darfur, consulted with the bishops of Sudan, and met with Sudanese government officials, to seek a way to respond to the crisis.

Bishop Ricard said the visit persuaded him that the Sudanese government only responds to strong and continuing pressure. «They make promises but I saw few results on the ground,» he wrote.

Noting that as many as 50,000 people have died and more than 250,000 others face an uncertain fate, the bishop said the United States, together with European countries and the United Nations, should coordinate strategies to move humanitarian supplies to the areas where the need is greatest.

He also called for the immediate release of $95 million in aid recently approved by Congress and said the Bush administration should work with Congress in defining and funding remaining humanitarian needs.

«Failure of the government to protect its citizens, its participation in the wholesale violence exacted on its people, and its unwillingness or inability to rein in the Janjaweed and other armed militias in the region of Darfur requires that the international community take steps to ensure the protection of unarmed and innocent civilians in Darfur,» the bishop said.

«To this end,» he added, «the international community should be prepared to provide the African Union with logistical, financial and political support as it conducts its mission of verification of the cease-fire agreements.»

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