Suffering in Darfur Must End



    TORONTO, Dec. 18 /CNW/ - Dr. David Swann ended his fast for the
war-ravaged people of Darfur late yesterday afternoon saying, "My fast may be
ending, but the suffering of the people in Darfur has not ended. And it will
not end unless the Canadian government does more to help bring peace and
security to Darfur."
    Swann attends Scarboro United Church in Calgary and serves as a member of
the Alberta provincial legislature. He began his fast on Tuesday, December 4.
United Church Moderator David Giuliano phoned Swann last week to offer his
encouragement. "David is a member of our church family acting on his faith.
He's putting himself on the line," commented Giuliano after the conversation.
    Swann's decision to fast coincides with the recent dramatic deterioration
of the security situation in Darfur and its brutal impact on the Darfuri
people, says Gary Kenny of the United Church's Justice, Global and Ecumenical
Relations Unit. "Delays in the implementation of a joint African Union-United
Nations peacekeeping force, called UNAMID, have resulted in a sharp increase
in violence and heavy fighting," Kenny explains.
    There are reports that nearly every road in Darfur has become insecure as
armed opposition groups, pro-government militias, or armed robbers attack
convoys and loot arms and vehicles. Aid agencies are finding the situation
almost impossible for their crucial humanitarian operations. Three and a half
million Darfuri are reliant upon humanitarian aid.
    An estimated 200,000 people have died in Darfur since war between the
Sudanese government and rebel groups broke out in 2003. More than two million
people have been displaced. The causes of the war are a complex mix of
competition for resources and demands by Darfuri for a greater say in the
affairs of the Sudanese state.
    The United Church, working through KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice
Initiatives, has called on the Government of Canada to do more to bring peace
and security to Darfur.
    "Canada must work to ensure that the Government of Sudan accepts the
African Union-United Nations agreement regarding the composition of UNAMID and
allows it to be properly resourced," says Kenny. To do their job of
peacekeeping, Kenny explains, UNAMID forces need sufficient land and air
transport. They also require land for the establishment of bases.
    Kenny adds that Canada also should consider what substantial support it
can provide to UNAMID to ensure that the civilian protection and human rights
components of the mission are strong.
    "Sometimes our faith, our sense of moral outrage, becomes insistent,
refusing to let us continue on as though nothing was happening," said Giuliano
of Swann's efforts. "I think David is trying to wake up the moral outrage of
his fellow citizens."
    "Governments like Canada's also need to take their responsibility to the
people of Darfur more seriously," Kenny urges. "Canada's efforts could make a
significant difference."





For further information:

For further information: or to arrange media interviews, please contact:
Mary-Frances Denis, Communications Officer, The United Church of Canada, (416)
231-7680 ext. 2016 (office), (416) 885-7478 (cell), (416) 766-0057 (home);
David Swann, (403) 614-3208 (cell), david.swann@assembly.ab.ca,
www.davidswann.ca

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