Pensacola, Fla., Aug 18, 2004 / 22:00 pm
In a telephone press conference given yesterday, Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ, chairman of the USCCB International Policy Committee, expressed his conviction that the direct involvement of President Bush and the U.S. government are needed to resolve the crisis in Darfur, Sudan, which he called “the world’s worst humanitarian situation of the present time.”
Bishop Ricard, of the diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, had recently returned from a trip to Darfur in which he visited various camps on the Sudanese border and in Chad, which are occupied by nearly 2.5 million people who have been forced from their villages by government-backed Arab militias known as the “Janjaweed.”
The people in the camps, according to Bishop Ricard, are in a state of constant anxiety and fear of being attacked. There is not enough food and it doesn’t come with any regularity, and the women are regularly raped when they leave the camp to fetch supplies or firewood. The displaced have tried to return to their villages but when they do they are attacked and some killed.
While the conflict has been on for decades, the Janjaweed have killed an estimated 30,000 Black Muslims in the Darfur region in the last 17 months.