Catholic Relief Services sent out an urgent appeal to supporters April 30 for their help with humanitarian efforts in Sudan, after the Sudanese government forced 13 other international humanitarian-aid agencies to leave the country and three nongovernmental organizations to close.
The Sudanese government made these moves after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant March 4 for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir for alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in Darfur during the past five years.
Sudan expelled such agencies as Oxfam, Care, Save the Children and Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), saying that the aid agencies had assisted the International Criminal Court in its investigation.
According to CRS president Ken Hackett, the agency departures and closures will result in major gaps in aid and help to many of the 4.7 million people receiving humanitarian aid in Darfur.
“CRS is in discussions with the United Nations and local authorities to determine how best to address the gaps in critical humanitarian aid across Sudan,” Hackett said in an e-mail to supporters. “Simply assessing the situation is an expensive undertaking.”
Hackett noted that CRS is one of the few large international humanitarian aid organizations working in both northern and southern Sudan. CRS has offices in the Darfur region in the western area of the country; in Khartoum, the capital; and in Juba, the regional capital of southern Sudan. More than 300 CRS staff members serve more than 420,000 people across the country.
In the Diocese of Rochester, many Catholics and parishes have actively supported humanitarian efforts in Darfur and in Sudan as a whole.
Donations to CRS may be made online at www.crs.org, by phone at 1-800-736-3467, or by mail to Catholic Relief Services, PO Box 17090, Baltimore, MD 21203-7090.