Humanitarian Crisis in Sudan: Letter of Bishop Blaise Morand to the Federal Minister of Foreign AffairsTuesday, June 01 2004
The Honourable Bill Graham
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
House of Commons
Dear Mr. Graham:
We are writing to join our voice to those of a growing number of Canadians who are concerned about the human rights and humanitarian crisis in Sudan. Although this is not the first time that the Bishops of Canada have addressed you on this matter, we communicate today with a growing sense of urgency. The United Nations has recently referred to the western region, Darfur, as the place of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. We cannot begin to contemplate the human tragedy when we read statistics indicating that over one million persons have been forced to flee their homes due to violence.
We are aware that some signs of hope for Sudan can be seen in the reports of the recent visit of Senator Mobina Jaffer, as well as the announcement that an accord has been signed toward a permanent ceasefire and comprehensive peace in southern Sudan. Nonetheless, this accord does not include the people of the Darfur region. To address that crisis, we join with other organizations led by KAIROS – Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives – who earlier this month requested that your government urge the following initiatives by the Sudanese authorities:
- To halt the repeated human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law committed by the Sudanese military and its proxy militia forces;
- To stop the systematic and indiscriminate aerial bombardments and ground attacks by Sudanese forces on unarmed civilians;
- To cease the attacks by its proxy forces against civilians including killing, rape, pillage, arson, and torture, intent on dispersing the population and ethnically cleansing entire regions of the country;
- To disband the ethnically-charged Janjaweed militia in Darfur;
- To allow immediate access to all zones of conflict by humanitarian organizations and international human rights monitors, and;
- To release all prisoners of conscience.
Mr. Graham, we also hope that Canada will do its utmost to contribute financially toward the international effort to mitigate the suffering of internally displaced Sudanese, as well as those refugees who have been forced to flee to neighbouring Chad.
Our prayers for the establishment of a truly just peace accompany this request for Canada to play a leadership role in the resolution of this grave crisis.
Most Reverend Blaise Morand
Bishop of Prince Albert
Human Rights Committee
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops