In response to the continuing crisis in Sudan, Islamic Relief (IR) officially launched the Sudan Emergency Appeal at the Houses of Parliament on 20th May 2004. Speaking at the launch, Dr Hany El Banna, President of Islamic Relief, said that the response was truly international and would coincide with similar appeals in IR fundraising offices throughout the world. The target, he said, is to raise between 5 and 6 million pounds, although there is no ceiling to how much he hoped would be raised.
The plight of displaced civilians in Darfur has alarmed the international community. The crisis, described as the worst in recent years, has, according to UN estimates, displaced 750,000 people internally, while another 130,000 refugees have fled to Chad.
“Peace is very fragile“ said Dr Hany, “and our main focus is on the well-being of the many displaced people.”
Makki Mohamed, Islamic Relief’s Regional Program manager for Africa, who also attended the launch, said “We expect that after the peace agreement has been signed, people will return to the area. We are trying to prepare for this by rehabilitating hospitals and schools and training teachers. This”, he added, “will ensure that people will have the facilities they need.”
Makki Mohamed (left) & Habib Malik (right)
Habib Malik, a fundraiser from Islamic Relief’s Scotland office had recently visited Sudan and gave an emotional account of his experiences on this, his first field visit. He spoke of a 7 year old girl who he had met in a camp for Internally Displaced People (IDPs). Holding her small brother in her arms she explained how her father had been killed during the violence which had overtaken her village. With their mother, the children had escaped to the IDP camp and had lived there for the past 3 months. Habib explained that the children were waiting for their mother to return from foraging for food. When she arrived, he was horrified to find that their meal for that evening would be a bowl of grass mixed with water.
In an impassioned plea to all those assembled for the launch, Habib, brought home the shocking reality of life in Sudan. People, he said, lack not only food and shelter, but also clean water and medical aid. Many do not even have clothes to wear.
With each passing day, the threat of disease, malnutrition and death increases. It is hoped that with funds raised from this appeal many essential items, such as clothes, tents, food and medical supplies will be provided to those who are in the direst need.
The people of Sudan, are desperate. They are also a proud people who are tired of war. The good news is that there seems to be a more concerted move towards peace. The signs of hope are there, but a humanitarian catastrophe is still imminent. With the help of the international community, much can be achieved. Now is the time to stand with the people of Sudan and tell them they are not forgotten. The alternative is unthinkable.