The U.S. bishops are calling on Americans to urge their government to press the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution that will respond to the present emergency in the Darfur region of Sudan.
“Hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in the region of Darfur, western Sudan, may die in the coming months unless something is done to end the conflict, provide security for civilians caught in the conflict, and gain unfettered humanitarian access to the region,” they said in a statement.
Violence broke out in the region, inhabited mostly by the country’s Christian minority, in February 2003.
Since then, more than 30,000 people have been killed and more than 1 million people have been displaced to camps, where there is a lack of food, medicine and shelter. More than 200,000 others have fled to neighboring Chad, where they continue to be subjected to further violence by Janjaweed militia forces from Sudan.
Women and young girls have been systematically raped, villages have been bombed and burned, and water and land resources have been poisoned and destroyed.
The bishops say that Arab militia groups, known as Janjaweed and supported by the government in Khartoum, are responsible for the attacks against the Fur, Zaghawa and Masaalit black African ethnic groups.
However, Khartoum claims they are engaged in an armed conflict against two rebel groups – the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLMA/A) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).
The bishops propose that U.S. citizens take action by writing or calling their senators, their representatives, the White House and newly-appointed UN ambassador John Danforth. The bishops have outlined the suggested content for such a letter on its Web site: www.usccb.org.