Darfur Fast for Life

We fast in solidarity with the hungry and starving in Darfur and for lasting peace in Sudan

Rabbi Saperstein BLOG, 06/16/09

June 16, 2009 By: Admin Category: Rabbi Saperstein

Why I am fasting for Darfur.

Today I find myself once again fasting for Darfur. My first fast for Darfur, which I did only a few days after being arrested with Representative John Lewis, four other members of Congress, and leaders of Darfur advocacy groups, was undertaken to underline the urgency of the suffering in the internally displaced persons camps in Darfur after President Bashir had expelled over a dozen aid groups from the region.

Now, though, three months later, as I take up the same fast again, the situation has not materially improved.  Aid groups report that while they have covered some gaps, their efforts are neither sustainable nor sufficient.  Food and other supplies have been unable to be pre-positioned before the rainy season in necessary amounts. Aid groups report that hunger and water-borne diseases will spread in the rainy season, with feared results of mass migration. Children are disproportionately susceptible to the results of insufficient sanitation, food and medical supplies. Families in other parts of Sudan also suffer as aid groups were pushed out.

All this while our hopes for a lasting peace in Sudan also dwindle, as reports of clashes in South Sudan has raised death rates to levels even higher than that of Darfur.

On my last day of fasting, I am honored that rabbis from around the world will join in the fast.  Fasting is a traditional part of Judaism, usually accompanying the memory of a great tragedy or deep repentance.  But we cannot let this fast be a yearly activity, as our traditional fasts are.  If that is the case, it will mean the world will have allowed the children of Darfur to slowly die, not the quick deaths at the hands of the Janjaweed, but slow deaths of hunger and disease, while promises and negotiations fail to return life-saving aid to these displaced people.  Let us do everything possible to ensure that this will be the last fast necessary to draw attention to the urgent need for both relief and long-lasting peace for the people of Sudan.

Together, activists around the world have committed to continuously pounding the drumbeat for Darfur, and Special Envoy Gration is working hard to negotiate a restoration of the humanitarian aid and to restart a just peace process and recent reports are that he is making progress in his negotiations. Yet they have still not been able to stop the suffering that is at once urgent and slow-moving. Negotiations about returning aid groups have not yet achieved real results. So, the stomachs of one group of our nation’s moral leaders will be hungering this Thursday to draw attention to people who are dying – urging the restoration of aid to the people of Sudan.

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