Catholic Relief Services has supported relief and development programs in Sudan since the end of the first major civil war in 1972 when the agency helped resettle internally displaced Sudanese. Over 400 staff members now serve more than 1 million people across the country.
In Northern Sudan, CRS assists more than 30,000 people in the Khartoum area and an additional 500,000 in Darfur. Most Khartoum activities take place in camps populated primarily by people displaced by Sudan's decades of civil war and more recently by the conflict in Darfur. Since 2004, CRS has also provided humanitarian aid in the state of West Darfur. These lifesaving programs provide relief through food distributions, shelter construction, and provision of clean water and sanitation facilities. CRS is also helping conflict-affected Darfuris move toward recovery through education support, agricultural and livestock assistance, and health and nutrition training.
CRS' work in Sudan is especially critical as the country prepares for a referendum on unity or secession for the south in early 2011. Sudan's response to these important events could usher in a new era of peace and prosperity—or more violence.
Debbie DeVoe is a freelance writer who has traveled to more than 10 countries for CRS.