Wednesday, February 8, 2012

RLPB 145. Sudan & Burma: Christian refugees in peril

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 145 | Wed 08 Feb 2012

SUDAN & BURMA: CHRISTIAN REFUGEES IN PERIL
By Elizabeth Kendal

SUDAN: NUBA GENOCIDE LOOMS

When Khartoum began ethnic cleansing South Kordofan in June 2011, there were an estimated one million non-Arab, non-Muslim, predominantly Christian Nuba in the state. Today more than half that number have been either killed or displaced. To maximise casualties, the Arabist-Islamist regime of Sudan president Omar el-Bashir (an indicted war criminal) closed the region off to humanitarian aid so as to engineer famine. Now the UN estimates that by March up to 500,000 Nuba will be dying en masse due to famine.

A coalition of Christian, Jewish and interfaith anti-genocide groups are urging the American government to intensify its efforts to convince Khartoum to open a corridor for the delivery of humanitarian aid. Aware this might fail, they are also urging the US administration to consider delivering aid without Khartoum's consent, an act they acknowledge would be fraught with risk. Khartoum insists it will never let aid organisations reward 'rebels'. Furthermore, without citing any evidence, it has accused the aid organisations of arming rebels. Khartoum would surely view any unsanctioned incursion as a hostile and provocative act and doubtless declare it to be a trigger for war. The situation is extremely delicate.

Grave fears are held for some 200,000 starving Nuba refugees slowly making their way south through the Kauda Valley, headed for the Yida refugee camp in South Sudan which is already home to about 24,000 Nuba refugees. Digital Globe images made public by Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) show that the Government of Sudan has moved Sudan Armed Forces' tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and artillery into the southern end of the valley, creating a fortified 'choke-point' which is preventing refugees from escaping south. SSP images also reveal that the runway at nearby Talodi has recently been extended to handle Antonovs (used as bombers). Satellite images also show new elevated roads being built into the Nuba Mountains, capable of bearing heavy military vehicles in all weather conditions. Images also reveal that helicopter gunships have arrived at the renovated airbase in the capital, Kadugli. Observers believe the regime will want to complete any military offensive and genocide before the onset of the rainy season due in around 8 weeks.

BURMA: KACHIN SITUATION IS DIRE

Behind the regime's smokescreen of token reforms-of-convenience, Burma's ethnic-religious minorities are suffering more than ever. Zetty Brake of Burma Campaign Australia told Radio Australia on 6 February that the situation for these minorities is actually getting worse: conflict is increasing as are human rights abuses, whilst some 60,000 displaced Christian Kachin are still without humanitarian aid. Similarly, the UN estimates that about 55,000 Kachin IDPs (internally displaced persons) in two dozen IDP camps are struggling to survive without basic aid. People are dying of preventable illnesses caused by cold weather and unsanitary conditions. Most of the children suffer diarrhoea and stomach parasites due to dirty drinking water. There is fear that diseases will spread. Women are suffering miscarriages at an increased rate. The situation is dire. Ben Rogers of Christian Solidarity Worldwide recently returned from the Burma-China border saying he heard some of the worst stories of human rights violations that he had ever heard in his almost 15 years of involvement in Burma. Please pray for the Christian Kachin. Also, the Burma Day of Prayer on Saturday 17 March 2012 is a date for church calendars. See here for resources.

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT --

* the God who saved Israel from Pharaoh's army by enabling their escape through the supposedly impenetrable Red Sea, will save the Nuba from el-Bashir's genocidal schemes. 'The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.' (Moses, to the trapped and imminently imperilled Israelites on the shore of the Red Sea, Exodus 14:14 NIV)

* the LORD of creation, who fed 5000 men and all the women and children present from five loaves and two fish, might magnify all efforts and multiply all provision so that the displaced Nuba and Kachin will not starve. (Matthew 14:15-21) 'I am with you always . . .' (Jesus' promise from Matthew 28:20)

* Jesus Christ our LORD, who himself lived as a refugee in Egypt, might speak with empathy into the hearts of all his displaced children in Sudan, South Sudan and Burma, drawing them to him for healing, provision and empowerment. (Isaiah 40:27-31)

SUMMARY FOR BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
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CHRISTIAN REFUGEES IMPERILLED IN SUDAN & BURMA

The UN estimates 500,000 mostly Christian Nuba fleeing ethnic-religious cleansing in South Kordofan, Sudan, will be dying en masse from famine by March. Furthermore, some 200,000 Nuba are trapped in the Kauda Valley, unable to cross into South Sudan because their escape route is blocked by Sudan Armed Forces. Further to having engineered famine, the Arabist-Islamist regime in Khartoum appears to be preparing for a military offensive. It is extending runways, building roads and bringing in bombers, helicopter gunships, tanks and other military hardware. In Burma, an estimated 55,000 Christian Kachin refugees, driven from their homes by Burmese forces during seven months of war, remain without aid. Children are dying and women are miscarrying -- the situation is dire. These are God's children and our brothers and sisters. Please pray.