Saturday, October 29, 2005

Christian Groups Persist in Darfur Despite Sudan's Escalating Violence

Christian organisations are persisting in their efforts to distribute aid in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region despite escalating violence as peace talks continue.

October 28 , 2005

Christian organisations are persisting in their efforts to distribute aid in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region despite escalating violence as peace talks continue.

With the intensified violence in the Western Sudan region, many aid groups have pulled their relief teams out from the area. Yet several Christian organisations remain in the region and are distributing supplies to the millions of displaced people who have suffered from 19 months of conflict.

Among the faith–based organisations currently in Darfur is Lutheran World Relief (LWR), who along with Action by Churches Together and Caritas Internationalis, offer one of the last health care centers in the region.

LWR has been the victim of increased attacks on civilians and aid agencies including the abduction of three men from LWR’s partner organisation, Sudan Social Development Organisation (SUDO), on Sept. 29th. Fortunately, Salah Idris, Ahmed Abubaker Musa and Salim Mohammed Salim were released unharmed on Oct. 6th, after heightened international concern following substantive peace talks between the Sudanese government and the rebel groups on Oct. 3rd.

In a statement released by SUDO concerning the worsening security situation in Darfur, the human rights organisation reported that "humanitarian workers continue to be harassed [by] authorities and militia, excluding none, which jeopardises the safety and security of staff and operations, and in turn, restricts access to people in need.”

“In some locations, humanitarian agencies face considerable difficulties to serve some encamped IDP [Internally Displaced People] populations,” the statement added, “De-facto authorities need to change their attitude towards humanitarian workers and cease acts jeopardising their work. There is a general sense of disappointment with what it has been possible to achieve in humanitarian protection, and a corresponding realisation of how difficult it is to protect in the Darfur context."

In addition to LWR, the Persecution Project Foundation (PPF), an organisation that collects and distributes Christian persecution news with a particularly focus on Africa, has remained in Darfur despite the danger. In an interview with Mission Network News (MNN), Matt Chancey of PPF said the group does not intend to leave.

"We're ramping up our efforts because we believe Christians need to show our brothers in Sudan that governments and NGO's may fail them, but God will continue to provide for his people through the ministry of His church," Chancey told MNN.

“We've been assisting thousands and thousands of Darfur Muslim refugees who have fled to southern Sudan to escape the genocide that is going on in Darfur,” he continued. “We've been providing them food, medicine and more importantly Arabic Bibles and Radios so they can read or hear, through Radio Peace, about the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

In addition to the hope brought to Darfur by the Christian relief agencies, peace talks between the rebel armies and the Sudanese government have taken plaec in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. The most recent peace talks are part of the sixth attempt of peace between the two groups and officially began on Sept. 15 with direct substantive dialogue beginning on Oct. 3rd.

The sixth round adjourned on Thursday, Oct. 20th and made little headway because of the division between the rebel armies, who each claim to control the majority of the SLM (Sudan Liberation Movement)fighters.

The congress of SLM will meet on Friday, Oct. 28th in an undisclosed location in Darfur to reconcile the division among the rebels and reconvene for peace talks in Abuja next month on Nov. 21st, according to the Sudan Times.

Around 800 delegates are expected to attend this key meeting of the SLM congress.

Nearly 300,000 people have died in Darfur since the ethinic minority rebellion began in early 2003, in addition over two million people have been displaced due to the conflict between the Sudanese government and the rebel army.

World Relief and World Vision are also currently in Darfur along with LWR and PPF.

Michelle Vu
Christian Today Correspondent

1 comment:

Free Sudan! said...

A word of caution is in order about Persecution Project Foundation and Brad Phillips. I'm a former Persecution Project supporter and I discovered an extremely disturbing story late last year about Brad Phillips and Persecution Project and a film they claimed to have "produced" called Sudan The Hidden Holocaust. Allegations surfaced some time ago that Brad Phillips never actually produced the video at all, but stole a master copy of the video from the actual producer, Jeremiah Films. The video remains available from Jeremiah Films, but none too surprising, Persecution Project no longer offers it, even though it remains extremely relevant and even though PP made a lot of money off it. I know that sometimes missionaries are capable of doing some foolish things, especially when it comes with trying to interact with a culture they're unfamiliar with. But this is worse than just foolish ignorance. To me it seems Brad Phillips has acted in an extremely greedy and evern a reckless way that jeopardized the lives of the Sudanese that he claims to want to help. I think that Persecution Project's donors should contact Brad Phillips about these serious allegations, such as his theft of the Sudan The Hidden Holocaust video master, and try to get to the bottom of this. No simple wave of the hand or "It's all just a big misunderstanding" should satisfy any Persecution Project donor. Be forewarned though. That's exactly what they did to me when I called and asked about it. They won't be getting any more of my support at least until they come clean.