IOCC Responds to Humanitarian Crisis in Sudan

Baltimore, MD (August 3, 2004) — International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is working to bring emergency relief to people who have been displaced by violent raids in the western Darfur region of Sudan.

An estimated 1 million people have been displaced from their homes, and more than 200,000 have fled across the border into Chad as a result of fighting between rebel groups, the Janjaweed militia and Sudanese government forces.

What some observers have described as a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the natives of Darfur has left hundreds of villages destroyed or damaged. The campaign of burning, looting and murder has forced 120,000 people into refugee camps in Chad and 500,000 people into makeshift camps in Sudan, according to news accounts.

IOCC, a humanitarian aid agency of Orthodox Christians, is cooperating with longtime partner Norwegian Church Aid (NCA). The agencies’ response is being coordinated by Action by Churches Together (ACT) as part of its $17.5 million appeal for the Sudan crisis.

IOCC and NCA are responding in refugee camps and host communities with shelter, water, toilets, public health messages and supplementary food. The latter will be provided to 50,000 children under age 5.

It is currently the cold season in Darfur, and the area is the coldest in Sudan. The displaced people have arrived with few or no belongings. The health situation is poor, and water and sanitation is lacking, according to ACT. The rainy season also is imminent, posing a potential threat to the efficient distribution of humanitarian supplies.

Relief activities are being focused in the areas of Mallam, Zalingi and Jebel Mara in western and southern Darfur. Later, the partnership will look to expand into Garsilla, Mukjar and Kabum.

“The crisis in Darfur demands immediate attention,” said IOCC Executive Director Constantine M. Triantafilou. “This joint response will help meet the urgent needs of people displaced by the violence, as well as reduce the incidence of disease.”

Elsewhere in Africa, IOCC responded to devastating floods in Mozambique in 2000 and has been active in Ethiopia since 2001. In addition to Sudan, IOCC has assisted refugees in the former Yugoslavia, Chechnya, the Republic of Georgia, Greece and Turkey.

Donations may be sent to IOCC, “Africa Response,” P.O. Box 630225, Baltimore, Md. 21263-0225. Donations may also be made online by clicking here or by calling toll-free 1-877-803-4622.

Founded in 1992, IOCC is the humanitarian arm of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA). To learn more about its programs in Africa and elsewhere around the world, please visit www.iocc.org.

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