The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Sudan: Too late?

Too little, too late.” An unnamed U.N. humanitarian aid coordinator spoke these words about international relief for Sudan in November 2004. Nine months later “too late” is even later, and “too little” has grown too big for the African nation to handle.

According to U.N. estimates, the civil war in Darfur has already claimed 180,000 lives and displaced 2 million people, while the south of Sudan is suffering its worst famine since 1998, when more than 60,000 people died.

Arab militias (Janjaweed) aided by the Sudanese government have targeted African Muslims and farmers for killing. The U.S. is the only country labeling this “genocide.”

Y. Franklin Ishida of the ELCA Division for Global Mission said “the situation, if not urgently addressed, could be reminiscent of the [1994] Rwanda genocide.”

More than $700 million is needed to increase the African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur from 2,270 to 12,300 troops, according to a June 1 Religion News Service story. The U.S. pledged an additional $50 million on top of $95 million already promised and is under pressure to intervene in the conflict.

The ELCA joined other groups in signing a letter of appeal to President George W. Bush., initiated by Africa Action, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group. The letter said: “We call on you to assert U.S. leadership to ensure such an international intervention takes place as a matter of the greatest urgency.” Sudan has rejected any non-African peacekeepers.

Meanwhile donors are failing to provide support to Sudan’s famine-stricken southern region. The international community has not followed through with its April pledges of $4.5 million. “There could be a very serious impact on stability,” said Laura Melo of the U.N. World Peace Programme.

So far ELCA members have sent $205,000 to support humanitarian efforts in Sudan. Working with Action by Churches Together, the ELCA also sent $25,000 to provide water and sanitation for 30,000 Sudanese refugees in Chad.


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