The United Nations agreed recently to send a high-level mission to Darfur to probe claims of worsening abuses against civilians; the Lutheran World Federation is concerned about the safety of aid workers in the region, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million Sudanese driven from their homes in the three-year fight between the government and rebels.
The Lutheran World Federation has expressed concern at reports of harassment of aid workers in Sudan’s western Darfur region and has criticized the Khartoum government for “failing to provide humanitarian agencies with the support it has agreed upon.”
The declaration of the LWF Office for International Affairs and Human Rights was submitted Dec. 13 to the United Nations Human Rights Council during a two-day emergency session convened on Darfur, a hearing that was welcomed by the Lutheran group.
On the same day, the UN council agreed to send a high-level mission to Darfur to probe claims of worsening abuses against civilians in the territory the size of France in Africa’s biggest country.
The declaration by the LWF, representing 66 million Lutheran worldwide, accused Sudan of “failing to provide access to the areas where people are in need.”
It emphasized the importance that “all humanitarian agencies” have access to those in need. Member churches of the Lutheran body, especially in Nordic countries, are heavy backers of a number of emergency aid programs in Darfur. The declaration said that “humanitarian organizations should be enabled and assisted to have free access and freedom of movement.”
Some UN bodies have called the Darfur conflict the world’s worst humanitarian crisis; more than 200,000 people have been killed and more than 2.5 million driven from their homes in the three-year fight between the mainly Arab government and black African rebels.
Separately, the Human Rights Watch advocacy group has urged European Union leaders to support tough new action against top Sudanese leaders for their failure to end abuses in Darfur.
At the same time, two church-backed aid agencies, Action by Churches Together (ACT) International and Caritas Internationalis (CI), launched a joint appeal for emergency funds. ACT, with the backing of mainly Protestant and Orthodox churches and CI, a Roman Catholic aid and development agency, are working together in Darfur.