Vatican calls on U.N. to end Darfur refugee crisis

.- In a March 10th speech to the United Nations, Vatican representative, Msgr. Fortunatus Nwachukwu, called the refugee situation in Africa a “deep scar on the human family” and called on the International body to act quickly to “alleviate their suffering and to protect their rights." Msgr. Nwachukwu, nunciature counsellor at the Holy See Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations at Geneva, spoke at the 32nd meeting of the Standing Committee of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The four-day meeting began March 8.

His talk focused on the displaced population crisis in Darfur, Sudan, and said that, “The precarious and tragic condition of these millions of persons forcibly uprooted from their villages and their lands calls for concrete and prompt decisions to alleviate their suffering and to protect their rights."

Msgr. Nwachukwu noted the "positive signs given in the past year when voluntary and organized repatriation of refugees had started to normalize life for tens of thousands."

He pointed out however, that there has been "insufficient funding" and a "worsening of violence and ill-treatment of the displaced population of Darfur where the humanitarian situation is critical.”

Systematic attacks on the civil populations, the destruction of infrastructures and entire villages and the elimination of livestock and crops lead to a widespread displacement of the civilian population."

"If a person is lucky," the Msgr. added, "he or she becomes a refugee by crossing the border and ends up in a refugee camp in Chad, where protection and some relative safety may be provided. ... The African Union military monitors are insufficient in number and lack the necessary logistical support."

He said that, notwithstanding "the courageous presence and assistance of the UNHCR, of other U.N. agencies and many NGOs, ... a strong U.N. leadership and an overall coordination by one agency of external assistance and protection to IDP (internally displaced persons) camps and other places of their concentration appear urgent.”

“As an international community”, he concluded, “we should develop a reliable system, which effectively protects those staying in their own country, but displaced from their homes.”

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