Louisville hosted the 2004 AFJN annual meeting from October 2-3. Members came together in the gracious Kentucky city to honor the San Egidio community for their peacemaking work in Africa, particularly their recent attempts to bring the Sudanese parties together. Bishop Macram Max Gassis of El Beid diocese gave a moving talk about the political, humanitarian and personal challenges in southern Sudan. Members then agreed to approve two resolutions to be used in their advocacy work, one on Liberia and the other on Sudan . Members were also invited to sign on to a letter to the US government, concerning the situation in Sudan, proposed by the Catholic Task Force on Africa.
SIGN-ON LETTER AND RESOLUTIONS APPROVED BY AFJN MEMBERS
Resolution on Liberia
To call upon the US Government, the United Nations and the international community to consolidate Liberias post-conflict reconciliation and reconstruction efforts.
Whereas, for nearly 25 years Liberia has been plagued with unrest, resulting in the deaths of over 200,000 people, displacing one million others, and destroying the economic infrastructure of the country;
Whereas, the rebel Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) still controls three counties in the southeast and LURD (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy) continues to move freely in Loffa county, the bread basket of Liberia;
Whereas, the economy is in shambles and unemployment is over 90 percent;
Whereas, Monrovia is the only capital city in the world without electricity and running water;
Whereas, over 500,000 Liberian citizens live in camps for displaced people and over 100,000 others reside as refugees in neighboring West African countries;
Whereas, the peace accord of August 2003 led to power sharing among previous warring parties;
Whereas, at present 13,500 UN peace keepers are patrolling the main roads in major towns and cities while remnants of the LURD and MODEL rebel forces continue to harass people and pillage homes;
Whereas, in February 2004 the international community pledged $520 million for reconstruction but so far there is little evidence of it;
Whereas, the Liberian situation threatens peace and stability in neighboring Cote dIvoire, Guinea and Sierra Leone;
Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Africa Faith and Justice Network, convened at their 2004 Annual General meeting, that AFJN:
1. Urges the US and the international community to ensure Liberians access to adequate food, clean water, basic public utilities, shelter and health care to meet immediate basic needs;
2. Calls on the US and the international community to work with present Liberian government structures to help Liberia with voter registration;
3. Asks for continuing efforts to disarm and rehabilitate child soldiers;
4. Advocates for retraining Liberias armed forces and law enforcement personnel;
5. Supports the employment of Liberians by the UN and international NGOs, and the financing of economically sound, quick impact projects. US $6 million per year will ensure paying teachers salaries and allow children to return to tuition free schools;
6. Recommends the improvement of rural roads to improve the transportation system, the provision of seeds and hand-held farm tools to increase the food supply, and appropriate water catchment systems for irrigation;
7. Insists that women be mainstreamed into peace negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction because they are the main victims of war and the most resourceful agents of reconciliation and reconstruction.
Resolution on Sudan
To call upon the US Government, the United Nations and the international community to exert their full influence to halt categorically and immediately the genocidal killings, rapes, and other forms of violence and abuse of fundamental human rights being inflicted upon the peoples of sub-Saharan origin in the Darfur region of Sudan.
Whereas, the peoples of sub-Saharan origin living in the Darfur region and other parts of Sudan, such as Malakal district, are threatened by a reign of terror characterized by genocide, rape, slavery, disease, hunger, expulsion from homes and land, and destruction of property, including water sources;
Whereas, over one million people are displaced in Sudan, 180,000 more have sought refuge in eastern Chad, and tens of thousands of civilians have been killed since February 2003;
Whereas, according to USAID, even if the war were to stop immediately, as many as 100,000 people in Darfur will likely die in the coming months due to the desperate humanitarian situation;
Whereas, repeated attacks on civilians by Government of Sudan military and its proxy forces, notably the Janjaweed militias, and the use of systematic and indiscriminate aerial bombardments and ground attacks on unarmed civilians, essentially targeting the Zaghawas, Masaalit, and Furs tribes, have led to massive physical and emotional suffering, disease and starvation;
Whereas, more than three million people have been affected by the violence in the region;
Whereas, women and children, who make up ninety percent or more of the populations in the regions refugee camps, continue to be attacked by government sponsored militias;
Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Africa Faith and Justice Network, convened at their 2004 Annual General Meeting, that AFJN :
1. Calls on the Government of Sudan to ensure the security of the civilian population of Darfur, disarm the militias and grant freedom of movement to aid workers;
2. Urges the Bush Administration to release immediately the $95 million for Darfur and Chad in urgent humanitarian aid approved by Congress;
3. Calls on the United States government and the international community to support the expansion of the mandate of the African Union in Darfur to include protection of innocent civilians, those inside and those outside refugee camps, by whatever means necessary within the framework of the U.N. Chapter VII mandate;
4. Calls on the United States and other nations to provide logistical support for the distribution of humanitarian assistance and airlifts to regions cut off from such assistance because of seasonal rains;
5. Urges that only sanctions on Khartoum that might be focused with great accuracy be considered, such as travel bans and the freezing of assets of specific individuals. Sanctions that are much broader would likely hurt the very people they are intended to help, as authoritarian governments are very adept at foisting the costs of sanctions off on the poorest and most vulnerable;
6. Recommends that Sudan be maintained on the list of terrorist states until otherwise certified by the Department of State;
7. Urges the US government to fully support the Inter-Governmental Authority on Developments (IGAD) peace process between the north and the south and other marginalized areas (Nuba Mountains, South Blue Nile), following the signing of a comprehensive framework for peace on 26 May 2004;
8. Joins Catholic Relief Services in requesting the immediate appointment of a new Presidential Envoy for Peace in Sudan to act as a catalyst for peace in Darfur, as well as a final North-South accord that addresses the conflict in Northern Uganda;
9. Calls on the African Union to exclude Sudan from all African Union organs, particularly its Human Rights Commission;
10. Calls on the U.S. government to formally petition the UN to exclude the Sudan from membership on the UN Human Rights Commission.
SIGN-ON LETTER TO GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS CONCERNING SUDAN
03 October 2004
· President Bush
· Condolezza Rice, National Security Council
· Sen. John C. Danforth, UN Ambassador
· Sen. Richard Lugar, Chair, Foreign Relations
· Sen. Joseph Biden, Ranking Member, Foreign Relations
· Sen. Lamar Alexander, Chair, Africa Subcommittee/Foreign Relations
· Sen. Bill Frist
· Colin Powell, Secretary of State
· Rep. Henry Hyde, Chair, International Relations
· Rep. Tom Lantos, Ranking Member, International Relations
· Rep.Ed Royce, Chair, Africa Subcommittee/ International Relations
· Rep. Frank Wolf
The Catholic Task Force on Africa (CTFA) is a coalition of Catholic religious communities, organizations and missionary groups committed to promoting economic, political and social justice for Africa within Catholic Faith Communities and U.S. government policies.
We and our colleague organizations are writing to call upon you to exert the U.S. governments full influence to halt categorically and immediately the genocidal killings, rapes, and other forms of violence and abuse of fundamental human rights being inflicted upon the peoples of sub-Saharan origin in the Darfur region of Sudan.
As you know, tens of thousands of civilians have been killed in Darfur, over one million people are displaced and 180,000 more have sought refuge in eastern Chad since February 2003. According to USAID, even if the war were to stop immediately, as many as 100,000 people in Darfur will likely die in the coming months due to the desperate humanitarian situation.
Continued attacks on civilians by Government of Sudan military and its proxy forces, notably the Janjaweed militias, and the use of systematic and indiscriminate aerial bombardments and ground attacks on unarmed civilians, have led to massive physical and emotional suffering, disease and starvation. Women and children, who make up ninety percent or more of the populations in the regions refugee camps, continue to be attacked by government sponsored militias.
On 09 September 2004, Ken Hackett, President of Catholic Relief Services, testified before a Senate committee on the Darfur crisis. Among other things he recommended that the U.S. should support and pressure the Security Council to authorize an expanded African Union force of at least 3,000 troops with a firm mandate to rein in the violence and help protect Darfurs vast population of internally displaced.[*] In order for this to happen, CRS requests that the U.S. contribute an additional $90 million to fund unmet UN appeals and provide for an expanded African Union force. He also called for the U.S. to immediately name and dispatch a high-level peace envoy to Sudan.
We greatly appreciate the efforts taken to date at the UN and by governments, including the U.S. government, to sound the alarm about the Darfur crisis. We join our voices to those of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic colleagues like CRS, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men and numerous religious communities, international NGOs and humanitarian groups, in urging you to strongly support the African Union in fielding an expanded force with the clear aim of stopping the genocidal killings and other crimes against humanity taking place in Darfur. To that end we ask Congress and the administration to go beyond the Senates recent backing of $75 million for African Union intervention and allocate the $90 million requested by CRS. Likewise we urge you to dispatch a special envoy right away to advance a settlement of the Darfur crisis and demand an end to the killing and horrific abuses there.
There is no more time to waste. We must act on stopping the violence now.
[*] 3,000 troops is still a highly inadequate number given the drastic situation. Nigeria has suggested 5,000. In fact, the level should be determined by the number of troops actually required to effectively protect the civilian population.