Contact: Alexis Rice or Avital Weinberg 202.387.2800
WASHINGTON, November 5, 2004 – In response to this week’s escalating violence in the Darfur region of Sudan, the Sudanese government’s blocking of aid workers’ access to refugee camps, and the destruction of a camp in Darfur, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
The distressing news of the Sudanese government’s efforts to hinder relief efforts for the people of Darfur is clear evidence of the deteriorating security situation and an escalating humanitarian crisis. We condemn the destruction this week of al-Jeer Sureaf camp and the forced relocation of displaced persons. As a result of the blocking by the Sudanese army and police of aid agency access to refugees camps, 160,000 displaced people are no longer reachable by road, and scores of aid workers are being forced to evacuate due to lack of security. The Sudanese government’s statement that aid agencies in Darfur are the “real enemy” is a deplorable lie. As the world watches, the Sudanese government’s actions have made an already deplorable human rights crisis worse and it is the innocent people of Darfur who are paying with their lives.
We are taught in Leviticus that “You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.” (Leviticus 19:16). Yet blood continues to be shed on Sudanese soil. As a people intimately acquainted with the horrors of genocide, we are obligated to speak out and take action when others are similarly threatened with annihilation. How much longer must the dying people of Darfur wait for the international community to take promised action and bring an immediate halt to the genocidal activity?
The rapidly worsening situation in Sudan is further evidence of the need for greater effort on the part all people of goodwill from around the world to address the crisis. Declarations by the United States, nations around the world and international bodies ring hollow without being accompanied by concrete steps to end the violence, such as targeted sanctions and the presence of more African Union troops on the ground. Only with an immediate end to the violence and increased humanitarian assistance can the horrors being experienced by the people of Darfur be alleviated.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism's work on international issues is supported by a generous contribution from Marilyn Herst Karsten.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.