AFRICA/SUDAN - “May peace encourage cultural renewal and eventually bring democracy” says missionary in Sudan

Thursday, 10 February 2005

Khartoum (Fides Service)- “There will be a real turning point for the country only if the peace process triggers cultural renewal which will eventually bring democracy. But this will take time” a missionary with years of experience in Sudan told Fides with regard to a Red Cross statement with regard to the conflict in the western Sudan region of Darfur devastated by violent attacks perpetrated by pro-government militia.
“There is no place for optimism. The political crisis in Darfur has worsened. I see no imminent end to the conflict”, Christoph Harnisch, Red Cross delegate for Africa.
The humanitarian situation in rural areas will be ever more critical this year. Following migration of people caused by fighting between Khartoum and rebels, harvests are expected to by between 25-30% lower that previous years. People are too afraid to go out into the open to cultivate the fields and this means that about 2.5 to 3 million people will rely on food aid, said the Red Cross delegate.
“Unfortunately the peace process started in southern Sudan does not involve Darfur” the missionary told Fides. “It is to be hoped however that the interim period established by the agreement will produce a virtuous circle, a change of mentality and open the way to democracy. This will not be easy in a country where the interests of many powers interweave but we must make room for hope” the missionary concluded.
In the meantime the Sudanese government rejected the UN proposal to call an international court to examine atrocities committed in Darfur promising to set up a national court to examine war crimes. “We are certain that Sudan’s legal has the capacity to see justice is done”, Sudanese vice president Ali Uthman Muhammad Taha told the media after a meeting with the Security Council.
In a report published at the end of January the UN enquiry commission suggested that crimes against humanity committed by Arab militia on black African civilians in Darfur should be brought before an international court. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 10/2/2005 righe 33 parole 382)