Diverse Coalition Issues Unity Statement and Call to Action on Sudan
New York, NY - August 2, 2004
The Save Darfur Coalition, comprised of a broadly diverse group of faith-based, humanitarian and human rights organizations, has issued a Unity Statement and Call to Action in response to the massive humanitarian and human rights crisis in Darfur, Sudan. The purpose of the statement and of the newly formed Coalition is to raise public awareness and to mobilize North Americans and members of the international community to respond to and help end the atrocities that threaten the lives of two million people in the region.
The Save Darfur Coalition presently consists of more than 70 organizations, including representation from all the major faiths and the Sudanese community, as well as a number of humanitarian and human rights organizations. Save Darfur will pursue several united actions to help stop the displacement of the ethnic tribal Africans, end the crimes against humanity and provide massive humanitarian support. In addition to the Unity Statement, which can be found in its entirety below, the Coalition is organizing a national Interfaith Day of Conscience on Wednesday, August 25 in churches, synagogues, mosques and community centers throughout the country.
The Coalition began on July 14 when the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and American Jewish World Service organized a Darfur Emergency Summit at the CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan featuring Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Elie Wiesel. Mr. Wiesel inspired the group with his impassioned remarks about the suffering being inflicted on Darfurians: "How can I hope to move people from indifference if I remain indifferent to the plight of others? I cannot stand idly by or all my endeavors will be unworthy. "
To learn more about the crisis in Sudan and further actions people can take, or to add your group to the Coalition, contact David Rubenstein at 202-368-6100 or any of the member groups listed below. Additionally, the Save Darfur Coalition is building a Web site due to launch by the end of this week: www.savedarfur.org.
UNITY STATEMENT AND CALL TO ACTION
The emergency in Sudan's western region of Darfur presents the starkest challenge to the world since the Rwanda genocide in 1994. A government-backed Arab militia known as Janjaweed has been engaging in campaigns to displace and wipe out communities of African tribal farmers.
Villages have been razed, women and girls are systematically raped and branded, men and boys murdered, and food and water supplies targeted and destroyed. Government aerial bombardments support the Janjaweed by hurling explosives as well as barrels of nails, car chassis and old appliances from planes to crush people and property. Tens of thousands have died. Well over a million people have been driven from their homes, and only in the past few weeks have humanitarian agencies gained limited access to some of the affected region.
Mukesh Kapila, the former United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Sudan, said on March 19 that the violence in Darfur is "more than a conflict, it's an organized attempt to do away with one set of people. "The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has issued its first ever genocide emergency. John Prendergast of International Crisis Group warns,"We have not yet hit the apex of the crisis."
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) estimates that 350,000 people or more could die in the coming months. Ongoing assessments by independent organizations such as Medecins sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) suggest that USAID ' s estimate may be conservative. If aid is denied or unavailable, as many as a million people could perish.
Lives are hanging in the balance on a massive scale.
CALL TO ACTION
We commend the efforts of the U.S. government in brokering a peace deal to end the gruesome 21-year Civil War in the South and its generous pledge of $300 million in U.S. humanitarian aid. We also applaud the recent visits of Secretary of State Colin Powell and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to the region of Darfur to assess the atrocities human rights organizations are calling the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. And we congratulate Congress for taking decisive legislative action. But we must not wait for a legal determination of "genocide" to ensure a massive worldwide humanitarian response and call to end the violence and investigate crimes against humanity.
As Elie Wiesel passionately declared at our Darfur Emergency Summit on July 14, "the perils of indifference enable killers to kill and tormentors to torment...we cannot stand idly by [the crimes against humanity being committed in Sudan] or all our endeavors will be unworthy...We must act." We therefore call on people of conscience everywhere to take any and all actions permitted by each individual's or organization's abilities and constraints to:
- encourage worldwide efforts to stop the displacement and end the crimes against humanity
- demand massive worldwide governmental humanitarian support and access to match the need
- help in the relief efforts by supporting organizations giving aid
- promote efforts to rebuild villages and return the displaced
- call for a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide
This statement is hereby signed and endorsed by the leaders of faith-based, humanitarian and human rights organizations joining together as the Save Darfur Coalition.