Church workers say Darfur's real fight is over resources

Church personnel providing aid to some of the more than two million people displaced by fighting in western Sudan's Darfur region say that behind the violence lies a bitter struggle over diminishing supplies of water and arable land.

Catholic News Service reports that to an outsider, there does not appear to be much in Nyala to fight over. It describes the scene as "a lot of desert, a few camels and, for a couple months of the year when it rains, some green grass that provides a welcome respite from the otherwise omnipresent sand".

"This is a war that's first and foremost about resources," said Bjorg Mide, director of the ACT/Caritas Darfur Emergency Response, a program that brings together the world's Protestant and Catholic aid agencies in an effort to help people who have been chased from their homes by a scorched-earth campaign that many characterize as genocide.

UN officials say more than 180,000 people have died in the last two years because of armed conflict in the Texas-sized region of Darfur. Other experts put the death toll as high as 400,000.

Meanwhile Australian Jesuit Bryan Pipins (pictured), who has spent some time in East Timor, has been sent to Africa to help begin Jesuit Refugee Service projects in Northern Dafur, Sudan. He travels first to Nairobi, before his work in Dafur.

The Australian Jesuits' website reports that in many areas, people live in great need of physical and emotional assistance, and there is little access to education.

"The proposed JRS program will provide educational resources in Northern Dafur, where relatively few agencies have a presence. It will focus on encouraging community participation in education, in the hope that the programmes will eventually be self-sustaining. The initial place of work will be in a refugee camp in the area, and later spread more widely into the community."

As an Australian Province Scholastic, Bryan Pipins helped establish the JRS work in East Timor following the violence there. Earlier this year he returned to East Timor to teach English, and is now completing a Masters degree in church history.

Church workers say Darfur's real fight is over resources (Catholic News Service 12/7/05)
Australian Jesuit leaves to set up JRS programmes in Dafur (Jesuits Australia 5/7/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Jesuit Refugee Service Australia | International
Caritas Australia - Sudan Crisis Appeal

In Sudan, "Martyrdom is real", says priest (Catholic News Agency 5/7/05)
Sudan's Christians celebrate peace accord (Catholic World News 12/7/05)
John L. Allen: Christians in Sudan (National Catholic Reporter 24/6/05)
Sudan - stil the face of suffering (Catholic Weekly 10/7/05)
Emergency supplies airlifted to Darfur to beat rainy season (Independent Catholic News/CAFOD 29/6/05)

14 Jul 2005