Multi-faith prayers for Darfur as suffering continues

 British religious leaders from Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths will come together in Westminster on Sunday 17 September to pray for peace in Darfur in western Sudan. Millions of church, mosque and synagogue goers are also being asked to say prayers on the day for an end to the humanitarian suffering in Darfur. The vigil coincides with 'Day for Darfur' events happening in cities across the world to mark the one year anniversary of the UN pledge to provide security for all civilians. The religious leaders in Downing Street will say prayers written especially for the event by among others Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, chairman of interfaith relations committee at the Muslim Council of Britain, and the Catholic Bishop of El Obeid, Antonio Menegazzo, whose diocese covers Darfur. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said in his prayer, "We pray for the people of Darfur who have been terrorised and forced from their homes, for those who have fled to refugee camps, and who still live in fear." Bishop Antonio Menegazzo said in his prayer: ""Touch the hearts and enlighten the minds of those responsible for this tragedy: government, soldiers, janjaweed, rebels fighting for greater equality and justice, so that they can reach a just and fair peace, not in the near future, but immediately." After the vigil at Number 10, the religious leaders will be meeting the UK government to ask them to do everything possible to help resolve the ongoing crisis in Darfur. To date the conflict in Darfur has forced more than two million people from their homes, destroyed thousands of villages, and killed hundreds of thousands of people. The situation remains dire. CAFOD's International Director Lesley Anne Knight will be at the event. She said: "The humanitarian situation in Darfur is deteriorating daily. The people of Darfur need your prayers and the Pray for Darfur event is an opportunity for people of all faiths to join together in solidarity with Darfur to pray for peace." A peace agreement was signed on 5 May but there have been an increasing number of reports of government troops and allied militias attacking rebel held areas and civilians. The African Union (AU) is currently providing some protection to the people of Darfur with the presence of AU troops. However, there aren't enough troops and it is too under-resourced to ensure any security in the region. Its mandate ends in September. In Darfur, CAFOD is working through an alliance between Action for Churches Together (ACT) and Caritas (a network of Catholic agencies). The programme has provided more than 360,000 people with non-food aid items and constructed more than 4,000 shelters. Two hospitals and 21 health care clinics have been set up. More than 40,000 malnourished children and new mothers have been cared for and 350 public health volunteers have been trained. Prayer resources can be found at:,uk

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