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UMCOR Provides Emergency Relief in Sudan

Posted: July 21, 2004 Click to Visit Global News. Print-friendly

The United Nations says that, right now, the crisis in Sudan is the world's worst humanitarian disaster. After 16 months of armed conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan, nearly 30,000 residents have been killed, more than a million displaced.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is working with partners to expand support for displaced Sudanese people. Some live in camps in Darfur, others beyond Sudan's border in Chad.

The statistics are overwhelming. Stories of individuals like Khardaga Abdullah Ali give those numbers a face.

Khardaga lives in Al Hisahisa Camp in western Sudan. She says, "I came here after Ramadan last year from my village of Kargula . . . because the Janjaweed attacked us and killed some of my village. We haven't been able to bury our dead because it is not safe to go back. There were 64 people killed from our village. We feel very sad because not only have we lost our friends and neighbors, but we have not been able to bury them. The Janjaweed are now living in our village, so there is no way that we can return there." She has five children. Her eldest child is 15. Her youngest, a five-months-old boy, was born in the camp.

UMCOR is working through its ecumenical partner, Action by Churches Together (ACT), to help people affected by the Janjaweed militia attacks maintain their basic daily activities with dignity. The collaborative effort is also aimed at initially stabilizing and then reducing the incidence of environmental health-related diseases, said the Rev. Kristin Sachen, UMCOR's head of emergency services.

United Methodism's humanitarian agency responded to ACT's June appeal for Sudan by sending an initial $25,000. Sachen said the international faith community's response will provide for 500,000 people in areas designated by the UN OCHA (coordinating body for humanitarian disasters). The efforts include work with people in camps in Chad and in the communities that host the camps, as well as with people living in the bush, irrespective of religion, race or political affiliation.

The key needs in the emergency response include shelter, water, toilets, hygiene and promotion of public health, supplementary food, and non-food items to set up a household. Primary health care, educational services, psycho-social support, seeds and tools, and advocacy will also be a part of this "holistic approach to what has been referred to as the worst humanitarian disaster on the planet," Sachen said.

"The situation in Darfur cries out for international attention and intention. We must bring our political will to the efforts to demilitarize the area and our compassion to bring healing to those who have been so traumatized," she said.

"The violation of human rights is on a huge scale, including rape, abduction of children, killings, beatings and complete destruction of homes and possessions," Sachen added.

She said United Methodists and others might wonder why there should be interest in the Sudan when there are other places of concern in the world. "If ever there was a time and place to witness to the power of God who suffers with us, dies with us and resurrects with us ... the refugee camps in Chad today are that place and time. Looking the other way is not an option for people of faith."

UMCOR supports relief and development work in Sudan to meet immediate emergency needs and long-term recovery solutions.

Sources: UMCOR, United Methodist News Service, and ACT/Caritas Darfur Emergency Response.

Khardaga and her baby standing outside her tent

Khardaga Abdullah Ali's tent is not waterproof. With the onset of rainy season in Sudan, she urgently needs plastic sheeting. She built a low brick wall around the outside of the tent to try to stop water seeping in. Inside the tent, she is building a raised area of earth to form a bed. Your support of UMCOR's Sudan Emergency, Advance #184385 will enable displaced Sudanese people like Khardaga and her family to receive essential supplies and will also help provide supplementary food for malnourished children. Credit: ACT/Caritas Darfur Emergency Response 2004

The Crisis in Numbers

Map of Sudan: Click for larger versionAn estimated 1.2 million people in Darfur, Sudan have been forced from their homes by the conflict. They are scattered over an area twice the size of France.

Recent surveys show that around one in four people is acutely malnourished in Southern Darfur. The United Nations predicts that by October that percentage will rise to one in two.

The United Nations foresees that even if aid is delivered immediately, approximately 300,000 people will be at extreme risk.

According to UN figures, in Southern Darfur alone, which has 350,000 displaced people, 100 lives are being lost every day.

UMCOR has joined the ACT/Caritas Darfur Emergency Response (ACDER) to Sudan. ACDER has issued a joint appeal for $17.5 million to assist 500,000 people who have been displaced into camps, who are living near their burned-out villages, or who are acting as a host communities, in southern and western Darfur. The program also aims to provide supplementary food to 50,000 children under the age of 5 and education for school-aged children.

ACDER's base in the Darfur region is Nyala, shown underlined in red on the map above. Click it for a larger version.

Source: ACT/Caritas Darfur Emergency Response.

Asisa Ateib holds her baby while sitting in her tent at Mile Camp in Chad.How to Participate in This Program

Please use an illustrative relief supplies cost list and a church bulletin insert that is available online to encourage donations to UMCOR's response in Sudan. The list and range of cost, which may be found online, enables United Methodist congregations, groups, and individuals to choose the amount of their contribution.

Your gifts to UMCOR's Sudan Emergency, Advance #184385 will support relief efforts. One hundred percent of your gift goes to humanitarian work in Sudan. United Methodists' generous giving to the One Great Hour of Sharing, part of their ongoing contribution to mission around the world, supplements the cost of Advance gifts. Give through your local United Methodist church or send financial contributions to: UMCOR, 475 Riverside Dr., Room 330, New York, NY 10115. Call 1-800-554-8583 to make a credit card donation.

Asisa Ateib, a refugee from Korney in West Darfur, in her tent at Mile Camp in Chad. "I fled from my village when I saw the Janjaweed attacking the neighboring village. I heard the machine guns and bombs, and I could see the light from the burning houses in the dark night. All my five children survived, but two of my brothers where killed during the attack, and my husband is not with me anymore," she says. Your support of UMCOR's Sudan Emergency, Advance #184385 will enable displaced Sudanese people like Asisa and her family to receive essential supplies and will also help provide supplementary food for malnourished children. Credit: Bjarne Ussing, DanChurchAid/ACT International, June 2004.

See Also

The map(s) is in the public domain, adapted from one(s) obtained the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, courtesy of The General Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.