Sunday, October 25, 2009

Caritas Asks for Millions of Dollars in Aid for Sudanese Crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS)—Caritas Internationalis launched an appeal for $ 3.4 million in aid to feed 35,000 Sudanese people who have suffered through violent conflict and years of drought.

"Violence in South Sudan is now worse than in Darfur," said Alistair Dutton, Caritas' humanitarian director, in an Oct. 21 statement. Earlier in this decade, Darfur, in western Sudan, was the site of an armed conflict that killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions.

"If the current peace deal unravels, we will be headed toward a major catastrophe," Dutton said. Sudan is recovering from 22 years of civil war that ended in 2005 with a comprehensive peace agreement between the northern-based government and separatist forces in the South.

Caritas said that an upsurge of violence in the southern state of Western Equatoria has forced 68,000 people from their homes. The Vatican-based umbrella organization of Catholic charities said it plans to bring aid to 25,000 people who are in need of immediate care. Violence in the region has worsened since the arrival of members of the Lord's Resistance Army, a militia force formerly based in Uganda, Caritas said.

In addition, in the southern state of Eastern Equatoria, two years of drought have left hundreds of thousands of people in need, Caritas said. The organization pledged to provide 10,000 people with food aid and planting materials, and to train farmers to improve farming techniques. The aim is to support people until the 2010 harvest.

"People caught in drought or conflict in South Sudan need urgent food aid, Dutton said, adding that "Caritas is able to reach isolated villages and communities."

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