Canadian Catholic organization sends $170,000 to Sudan and Chad in emergency aid

The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace has sent $170,000 to assist refugees in eastern Chad and the Darfur province of Sudan. The latest $100,000 aid package is in addition to $70,000 sent in June.

The response of the Canadian bishops development agency is part of an international effort by Caritas Internationalis — the Vatican’s international Catholic development and aid organization — which has launched a $24-million appeal for the people of Sudan.

Since the fighting began in 2003 between rebel groups – the Janjaweed militia and Sudanese government forces – more than two million people have been directly affected. One million people have been displaced.

The violence in Sudan has been described as one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, and the situation has been condemned as one of ethnic cleansing through the use of mass rape, summary killings, and a "scorched earth" policy, which includes killing livestock and destroying crops.

Caritas is working jointly with Action by Churches Together International for the first time to provide shelter, clean water, sanitation, and basic sleeping and kitchen materials to the 500,000 displaced Sudanese now living in camps near their burned-out villages, or in other host communities. To help in the massive distribution effort, Sudanese partners Sudo and the Sudan Council of Churches have found 60 volunteers from churches and the local communities.

All the camps are in desert areas in which water is scarce and roads are poor. During four days, the Touloum camp in Northern Chad welcomed almost 6,000 refugees, doubling the size of the camp.

The two church groups have already flown in a planeload of urgently needed relief supplies, containing food, emergency shelters and vehicles, which arrived June 20. From there, the load was transported to the nearby camps.

The Chadian Catholic agency, Secours Catholique et Développement, is delivering tents, blankets, mats and soap to the refugees. To discourage people from cutting trees for firewood, gas-fueled portable stoves will be distributed.

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