.- Salesian Father Jim Comino gave testimony of the dire situation in the Darfur region of Sudan during a recent visit to the national office of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Vienna, Austria, saying flatly that "We cannot leave them in the hands of their executors."
"More than 250,000 people rely on foreign aid," said Father Comino, who has been in charge of a youth formation center in Sudan's capital, Khartoum for many years. There are over a million refugees in Sudan's capital who have fled their homes in the south, only to live in conditions of abject poverty during the last ten years.
"The situation in the camps is unbelievably desperate," the Salesian said, "they make shelters with branches and sheets of plastic which will be washed away next time it rains. They lack even the bare necessities and especially medicine and food."
Father Camino, who has been able to access the normally inaccessinble refugee camps through his local connections, spoke of the suffering and uncertainty in the camps. "We saw a mother searching desperately for her little girl. They were hungry and she left her daughter in what she thought was a safe place to go one of the places where grain was being distributed. When she returned with the food the little girl had disappeared."
"The people will only return to their villages when they are certain that their lives are no longer in danger," he said, indicating that the situation is nowhere near to being resolved, "And even when they do decide to start a new life they will need foreign aid, so immense is the devastation caused by the militia in the western region of Sudan: more than 50.000 dead and more than one million have left their village."
"Even those who want to help the people fear the militia," he continued, "And every day hundreds of displaced persons unable to find a place at the international refugee camps are helped by Catholic Sisters in the parishes of Nyala and El Fasher."
"Giving these people a place to sleep, medicines and food involves personal risk. But we cannot leave them in the hands of their executioners," he said.
With the help of the Pontifical Mission Societies, medicines, oil, grain, powdered milk, soap and plastic sheeting were distributed among the needy in the region of Darfur.