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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Feeding slavery?

Lutheran World Relief and other Christian aid groups continue to denounce the abduction and forced labor of women and children by government-allied forces in Sudan's civil war, an abuse the Sudanese government now recognizes.

But LWR doesn't encourage redeeming slaves by groups such as Christian Solidarity International, which has bought tens of thousands of slaves from traders since 1995. The going rate is $50 each.

"Redeeming slaves has great emotional appeal," says James Bowman, director of the LWR public policy office. Other agencies with which LWR works, such as CARE, World Vision and Save the Children, also discourage this, he adds, because it spurs further slave trading, drives up the price and encourages "bogus slave-trading operations where there are no slaves."

Some money given to traders also buys weapons, heightening the conflict. "[Slave redemption] may not be an alleviation but an exacerbation of long-term problems," Bowman said.

LWR and other relief groups are urging the Clinton administration to broker peace in Sudan. Since 1984, the conflict has left more than 2 million dead and 4 million homeless.


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