Humanitarian Crisis in Sudan

The humanitarian crisis in Sudan continues to demand our attention and prayers. Recently Catholic Relief Services sponsored two candlelight vigils held to raise awareness in response to the plight of so many innocent people. Both the vigil in Baltimore, and the one in Washington, D.C. brought together people of diverse ages, nationalities and faiths. Additionally, the student body and faculty at University of Notre Dame also held a vigil for Sudan on Campus. We are heartened by the commitment and compassion of those who gathered to pray, reflect, listen, and to raise our voices on behalf of the more than 1.5 million people who are homeless, and to raise awareness of the injustices in Darfur.

They are hungry. They are without shelter. They are fearful. They are grieving the loss of loved ones, and they are suffering the pain of brutality, rape, and the plunder of their homes and villages. They want the world to notice.

History has shown us what can happen when the world stands idly by-how critical it is for communities large and small to come together, to stand up, and say, “No matter how far away you are, I am your neighbor. I am your brother or sister. I stand with you.”

We were reminded of this at the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide earlier this year, when the international community acknowledged the lack of response to a cry for help from one of Africa's smallest countries. The slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans took us back emotionally to the horror of times earlier in this past century, to the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust of World War II.

We must never forget what our world has witnessed; what we, as a human family, have endured. The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia took the lives of two million people–30 percent of Cambodia's population-through starvation, torture, and execution. The Ethiopian famine in 1984 was both a man-made and natural disaster, causing roughly one million people to perish. Ethnic cleansing in Kosovo triggered the alarm, yet again, of how near and current hatred can be.

We must be prepared for the long-term humanitarian affects of the crisis in Sudan. Without being able to return home or to farm in the coming months, the people of Sudan will be dependent on assistance for at least the next year or two. We must be there for them.

As we move closer to the great American holiday of Thanksgiving, let us remember those afflicted by the horrors of war, and those suffering in the wake of natural disasters all over the world. Let us share our bounty, and pray for those who are so desperate for food, shelter and peace.

May you and your family enjoy a very special day filled with love and peace.

Kenneth F. Hackett

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