Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Thousands Call for Peace on Global Day for Darfur

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Thousands Call for Peace on Global Day for Darfur

Article excerpt

As people around the world joined peace rallies, concerts, prayer vigils and even a "yogathon" to press for action to bring peace to Darfur in Sudan, the head of the U.S. bishops' international policy committee and others pleaded for more efforts to "end the killings, rape and wanton destruction."

Events in dozens of cities drew tens of thousands of people on or around Sept. 17, which was designated by peace groups as Global Day for Darfur.

Bishop Thomas G. Wenski of Orlando, Fla., the committee head, said that despite hopeful signs of a peace agreement in the spring, conflict has been mounting among rebel groups, the Sudanese military and its proxy militias, known as the Janjaweed.

The offensive "has trapped innocent and defenseless civilians in the middle of the fighting," Wenski wrote in a statement released Sept. 15 in Washington. And with the deteriorating situation, it has become "a deadly challenge" to deliver humanitarian aid to the 2.5 million people who have fled their homes and another million who are at risk of starvation, he said. A dozen aid workers have been killed since June.

He warned that the cycle of violence in Darfur threatens to spiral completely out of control. "With more people being displaced, an already alarming state of insecurity that has hampered efforts to deliver humanitarian aid may degenerate completely," he said.

Wenski said the U.S. bishops support a resolution authorizing the United Nations to take over an inadequately equipped and understaffed peacekeeping effort by the African Union, and the appointment of a special envoy to focus diplomatic attention on a lasting solution. …

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