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Caritas Calls on NZ to Put Pressure on Sudan

MEDIA RELEASE – fOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

20 September 2006

Caritas Calls on NZ Government to Put Pressure on Government of Sudan

It is time for the New Zealand Government to join other nations in putting pressure on the Government of Sudan to allow United Nations peacekeepers into Darfur. The humanitarian situation in Darfur is deteriorating each day. Yet the Government of Sudan refuses to allow United Nations peacekeepers into Darfur.

Despite the United Nations resolution 1706 last month to send 20,000 peacekeepers to Darfur, the Government of Sudan says that under no circumstances will the UN peacekeepers be allowed in.

The conflict has displaced millions from their homes, destroyed thousands of villages, and killed hundreds of thousands of people. The statistics are appalling:

- 12 humanitarian workers have been killed in the last 2 months alone, more than in the entire previous two years.
- The total number of displaced is now 1.9 million people.
- More than 200,000 people have been killed in the continuing conflict.
- Today, more than 3.5 million people require international aid just to survive.

However, due to the ongoing fighting between rebel groups, Government forces and allied militias, which has worsened since the signing of the Darfur Peace Agreement in May, humanitarian agencies confront the prospect of having to pull out their teams.

With nearly the same number of people as the population of New Zealand dependent on international aid, a withdrawal of humanitarian support would be catastrophic.

Michael Smith, Director of Caritas in New Zealand has said, “Caritas calls on the New Zealand Government to do what it can to help the people of Darfur, to prevent this conflict spiralling out of control and to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict.”

Caritas, one of the world’s largest humanitarian agencies, has been working in Darfur since 2004, providing emergency aid and assistance to those displaced by the conflict.

Caritas is accepting donations to assist the victims of the Darfur crisis. Donations can be made via:

- Phone: 0800 22 10 22 for credit card donations

- Post to: Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, PO Box 12-193, Thorndon, Wellington 6144

ENDS

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