.- The U.S. bishops have called on elected officials to strengthen their efforts to bring an end to the ongoing moral and humanitarian crisis in Darfur.
“Our nation cannot remain silent in the face of killings, rape and destruction,” said Bishop Thomas Wenski in a statement prepared for last weekend’s Save Darfur Rally.
The rally was sponsored by the Save Darfur Coalition, an alliance of over 150 faith-based, humanitarian and human rights organizations on the National Mall in Washington. Bishop Wenski is chairman of the bishops’ Committee on International Policy.
“Our country can and must do more, much more, to defend and protect innocent civilians in Darfur,” he said. “Anything else would be unworthy of us as a people committed to human life and dignity.”
The U.S. Catholic bishops welcome the Administration’s latest efforts to strengthen the mission of the poorly funded, ill-equipped and undermanned peacekeepers from the African Union who have sought to bring some measure of protection to the helpless civilians of Darfur. Since last year, the bishops have repeatedly urged passage of the “Darfur Peace and Accountability Act.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has advocated for several years on behalf of the innocent victims of Darfur, who remain trapped in the midst of violent clashes between the Sudanese army and rebel forces, as well as subject to inhuman cruelty at the hands of the janjaweed militia under the sponsorship of the government in Khartoum.
In addition to the 400,000 people who have died since 2003, 2.5 million have been driven from their homes and 3.5 million are at risk of starvation.
In early 2004, Bishop John Ricard, then chairman of the Committee on International Policy, warned that Darfur was “rapidly becoming the newest symbol of human depravity and ethnic cleansing,” Bishop Wenski pointed out. Since then, many well-intentioned attempts have been made to stop the spiraling cycle of violence.
“As the security situation deteriorates both in Darfur and across the border in neighboring Chad, the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the 2.5 million who have fled their homes and the million more at risk of starvation has become a daunting challenge to the international community,” said the bishop.