'Dear Sudan' Expanded Nationwide

A global humanitarian agency based in New York announced yesterday that a local grassroots awareness and fundraising campaign for conflict victims in Sudan is expanding nationally.

Church World Service, which will assist in launching “Dear Sudan” campaigns in communities throughout the country, said Wednesday that through related promotional efforts it would further support the national initiative to help alleviate the suffering of people uprooted by violence in Darfur, western Sudan.

"We applaud this creative, grassroots effort and urge communities across the country to join in," said Rev. John L. McCullough, Executive Director and CEO of Church World Service. "It's an interfaith effort in each community, and religious organizations lead the way."

Although it has been less than a year since "Dear Sudan" began in Petaluma, California, in the fall of 2004, CWS reports that the movement is now expanding nationwide and will further embrace the needs of more than 4 million people uprooted by the just-ended 21-year conflict between North and South Sudan

To date, "Dear Sudan" campaigns have been held in California’s Marin, Contra Costa and Santa Rosa counties. The national effort hopes to engage 5,000 communities in the drive.

“From its offices in Washington and at the Church Center for the United Nations, CWS advocacy has focused on restoration of peace in Sudan and has consistently urged U.S. policymakers and the international community to act to stop Sudan’s ongoing violence,” CWS stated in its recent report.

Although a January 2005 peace agreement ended the 21-year north-south war in Sudan that killed at least 2 million people, many of the more than 4 million displaced people are traveling from encampments in the north back to the south – most without any means of assistance or support.

“Food supplies are inadequate,” CWS noted, “and the infrastructure was decimated.”

According to the agency, most of the displaced families are living in makeshift camps in west, north and south Darfur, and more than 200,000 have fled across the border into Chad. Humanitarian needs are urgent, CWS added.

For those uprooted by the long conflict in southern Sudan who are now returning home, CWS is helping to provide reconstruction assistance, seeds, agricultural tools, household and other supplies.

Denominations specifically supporting the "Dear Sudan" campaign include: the United Church of Christ -- One Great Hour of Sharing; the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) - Week of Compassion; the United Methodist Church; the American Baptists Churches USA; and the Reformed Church in America.