Senator Lois Wilson addresses a news conference on Parliament Hill Feb. 24 aclling on the federal government to help stop the killing in Sudan.
A coalition of five Canadian churches including the Anglican Church of Canada has called on the federal government to help stop what they are calling genocide in Sudan.
Since the civil war started in 1983, 1.9 million people have died from war-related causes, Gary Kenny, director of the Inter-Church Coalition on Africa, told a news conference on Parliament Hill Feb. 24. As well, millions of people have been displaced, giving Sudan the “dubious distinction of having by far more internally displaced people than any other country in the world today.”
Kenny said it is time the international community took action. “We’re calling on Canada to use its position and good standing in the UN Security Council to muster the political will that is needed to stop the killing in Sudan,” he said.
The coalition also released its newest human rights report entitled, Cries from the Heart: Who Will Stop the Genocide in Sudan? The report stated that despite the evidence of genocide, the international community appears to remain largely indifferent to the horrors of Sudan. “Ignorance, or insufficient or biased data, can no longer be used as an excuse to deny the scope of the human rights crisis in Sudan.”
Also at the news conference, Senator Lois Wilson, former Moderator of the United Church of Canada, pointed to attempts by the international community to protect Kurds in northern Iraq and civilians in Kosovo. She wondered why similar attempts have not been made in Sudan. “What’s the matter with us? If the war continues, the Sudan conflict constitutes a major security threat to the whole region.”
Wilson praised Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy for sponsoring a motion at the UN Security Council on behalf of civilians at risk in conflict situations but called on him to “press the boundaries of the motion as far as humanly possible on behalf of Sudan, which is arguably one of the worst situations of the loss of human security anywhere in the world.”
The Canadian Council of Churches, represented at the news conference by Msgr. Peter Schonenbach, general secretary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Canada should call for the immediate establishment of no-fly zones in areas of Sudan that are continually subjected to indiscriminate aerial bombardment. Canada should also call for the appointment of a special representative of the United Nations Secretary-general to carry out vital shuttle diplomacy between rounds of regional peace talks on Sudan. Thirdly, he said, Canada should urge the UN to “take decisive measures to prevent the government of Sudan from banning humanitarian access to any population in need.”