Caritas Asking Aid for Sudanese Refugees

150,000 Refugees in Chad

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 12, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Caritas Internationalis has launched an appeal for more than $2 million to aid Sudanese refugees in Chad.



Caritas Secretary-General Duncan MacLaren recently visited the refugee camps in Chad and said the humanitarian situation is deteriorating rapidly.

He reported that some refugees were forced to eat leaves off trees because of a scarcity of food.

Most of the refugees have fled violence in the Sudanese region of Darfur. At least 150,000 people have fled to Chad, and another 1 million are displaced within Sudan.

International aid agencies have appealed for the establishment of a "humanitarian corridor" to Darfur, to assist people affected by the violence.

One Sudanese mother who fled the region five months ago with her husband and four children told Caritas workers in the camp that her family set out from their village on foot in the middle of the night after raiders stole their cattle, leaving them with just one calf. They later learned that their village had been burned to the ground.

"We arrived with nothing apart from a bag of millet and a few cooking things," said the mother. "Here they give us food because we don't have any money to buy things. I don't know what the future holds for my family."

Caritas Chad is leading the relief efforts by managing three refugee camps that host about 10,000 people each, with more arriving each day.

Food supplies are a constant concern -- at least 2,700 tons of food must reach the camps to feed the 60,000 refugees over the next three months. Trucking in clean water is also a pressing need.

Caritas Internationalis is a confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development and social service organizations present in over 200 countries and territories.