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USCCB-supported group urges President Bush to take lead in solving Darfur crisis

.- Earlier today, a faith-based human rights coalition seeking an end to genocides and violence in the Darfur region of Sudan sent a letter to President George Bush urging immediate action to end the crisis. The alliance, which consists of 134 religious and humanitarian groups including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, pointed out today that “In just over two years, the Sudanese Government and its paramilitary allies have killed more than 400,000 people, driven 2.5 million from their homes, and left 3.5 million without the food they need to sustain themselves.”

They have likewise called for a National Day of Action for the People of Darfur to be held today.

In their letter to the president, addressed September 21st, they wrote that “There is a moral imperative to respond to these atrocities.”

“An effective response”, the letter continued, “must pursue four basic goals: protect innocent civilians; provide humanitarian aid to those in need; hold the perpetrators of violence accountable; and ensure that those forced from their homes can return in a safe, voluntary, and dignified manner.”

Noting that the president’s words and actions strongly suggest support for an end to the crisis, the group thanked the U.S. for taking the lead in humanitarian efforts, but stressed that much more is needed.

Specifically, they asked for the president to forcefully speak out against the atrocities, press China and other nations to support an international effort to end the crisis, urge a U.N. mandate to help the U.S. support and protect the African Union Mission in Sudan, and instruct the State Department to issue frequent updates on progress in the region.

Bishop John H. Ricard, Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee, and Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Policy, said today that, “On this National Day of Action, we urge continuing pressure by the international community, including the African Union, on the government in Khartoum, the Janjaweed militias and the rebel forces to cease military operations and provide safe corridors for the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance.”

He added that “the crisis in Darfur must be ended. We cannot stand idly by while human life is threatened. The United States and the international community can and must do more to end this moral and humanitarian crisis. We continue to offer our prayers that the suffering of our brothers and sisters in Darfur may end soon.”

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