In Darfur, a roughly 200,000-square-mile region of western Sudan, as many as two million remain displaced in camps, while another 200,000 Sudanese refugees are in eastern Chad. Most are traumatized – terrified and demoralized by the war and violence they have witnessed or experienced.
While the world has not done nearly enough in Darfur, humanitarian assistance is making a difference.
Part of that difference has come about because of support Church World Service has provided to partners and fellow members of the Action by Churches Together alliance – the Sudan Council of Churches; Norwegian Church Aid; and Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development, and social service organizations.
Food, medicines, water and sanitation projects, education, agricultural inputs and tools, and counseling programs for the most vulnerable in the Darfur region have been underway since July 2004, and they continue.
Meanwhile, southern Sudan is preparing for major changes in the coming year. There are some four million people internally displaced by a generation of civil war in Sudan – three million of them, southern Sudanese living in northern Sudan. Some 500,000 southern Sudanese are refugees in seven neighboring countries.
With the January signing of a comprehensive peace agreement that ended a 21-year-long war in southern Sudan, so-called “spontaneous” returnees are starting to come back – but the situation for them is extremely difficult because organized returns by respective governmental authorities, the United Nations, and non-governmental organizations have not yet begun. As a result, returnees are in a precarious situation – hoping that help will come from somewhere. They are seeking support for food, medicine, and shelter.
Working with several partners, Church World Service is rehabilitating refugee centers in the region to assist the returnees. That program includes a component of CWS’s widely-praised Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) seminars – efforts to ease trauma and promote reconciliation.
In addition to those efforts, CWS is supporting programs by several partners in Sudan working in areas where “spontaneous” returnees are already arriving. This assistance includes post-war reconstruction work and peacebuilding activities.
In these and other efforts, Church World Service continues to accompany the people of Sudan on their journey for a better life.