The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops International Policy Committee arrived in Sudan Sunday to assess the humanitarian situation in the Darfur region.
Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ, of Pensacola-Tallahassee is scheduled to meet with the governor of South Darfur, where the Christian minority is being persecuted, and visit refugee camps there. He will also meet with representatives of non-governmental organizations, providing assistance in the region.
In Khartoum, Bishop Ricard will meet with Catholic Church leaders, United Nations personnel, and several officials of the Government in Khartoum, including the foreign minister, the minister of internal affairs, and the first vice president.
Government-backed Arab militias, known as the “Janjaweed,” have killed an estimated 30,000 people in the Darfur region of Sudan in the last 17 months. Another million have been forced to flee in the face of rapes and torture. The Janjaweed have also prevented aid from getting through.
Fr. Michael Perry, the USCCB’s policy advisor on African affairs, accompanies Bishop Ricard. They are scheduled to return to the U.S. Aug. 6.