Thanks to the generosity of Interim readers, an orphanage and family centre run by a Catholic priest in a Rwandan village is $1,400 richer, bringing the total raised in a recent Canadian fundraising initiative for the projects to about $41,000.
Peter Tassi, a Hamilton Catholic high school chaplain who helped organize the fundraising effort, which included the staging of a concert, expressed his gratitude to Interim readers on behalf of Father Hermann Schulz, who established and continues to run the orphanage and family centre in the village of Musha for survivors and families of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Schulz and his work were profiled in an issue of The Interim earlier this year.
“We already sent (Schulz) $33,000,” said Tassi. “We’ll be sending him roughly another $8,000.”
Although the situation in Rwanda is slowly brightening, the world community is pointing to conditions in another African country, Sudan – in particular, its remote Darfur region – as the world’s current worst humanitarian crisis.
Attacks by government troops and Arab militias have forced about 1.2 million people, mostly black villagers, from their homes in the western part of the country. About 30,000 have died in violent raids over the past year and reports continue to come in of massacres, rapes, torture and looting.
The UN warns of mass starvation and epidemics and is accusing the Khartoum regime of restricting access for aid agencies and journalists. The regime claims it is just trying to put down a rebel movement by bombing towns and villages suspected of harbouring insurgents and suggests that the Arab militias are merely independent outlaws. Both the U.S. and the UN have charged otherwise, while Amnesty International has condemned the government for “human devastation” in Darfur.
International observers have expressed fears that the conflict has the potential to widen and destabilize all of Sudan, as well as neighbouring Chad, to which some 180,000 refugees have fled.
One bright spot recently was the arrival of African Union troops as part of an observer mission, while the United Nations Security Council says it will consider measures including economic sanctions if the Sudanese government does not follow through with an action plan to improve the situation.
But Assist News reporter Caroline Brennan returned to the U.S. recently, bringing harrowing tales of killing, rape, kidnapping, looting, destruction and burning. She said the atrocities were supported from the air by as many as 10 Sudanese government aircraft.
“Chad and Sudan feel very far away, and when looking out one tent to see thousands more, it (is) overwhelming to think how this emergency, and these people, will ever get proper attention and justice,” she wrote. “Even nature seems against them with the onset of heavy rains.”
Aid agencies have been attempting to deal with the urgent needs of about 1.8 million people for food and basic supplies. Some of the groups most active in the area include Action by Churches Together, the British Red Cross, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, Care International, Oxfam and Save the Children U.K.