Catholic aid worker shot in Darfur

 A Catholic aid worker has been shot while delivering vital medical supplies to a camp in Darfur. The unnamed man, who was shot while driving, was undergoing surgery yesterday and was reported to be in a stable condition. The remaining three passengers, all of whom work for ACT/Caritas partners SUDO, (Sudan Social Development Organisation) and SCC (Sudan Council of Churches), were not injured. CAFOD, which is playing a leading role in the joint ACT/Caritas emergency relief programme, says the incident is another indication that the government of Sudan and all the warring parties are failing to fully protect civilians and humanitarian workers in the Darfur region. The marked humanitarian relief car was attacked by a lone gunman with a machine gun as it travelled along the road between Mershing and Nyala. Aid agencies are now advised not to travel on the road until further security checks are made by the United Nations. This leaves the possibility of thousands of people being cut off from further aid deliveries. CAFOD director Chris Bain said: "This incident demonstrates the highly dangerous situation we and other aid agencies are operating in. Staff security is a priority and we do everything we can to protect our staff and partners. Without this we cannot deliver vital aid to the thousands of displaced people suffering starvation and disease. "However, it is clear vast improvements in overall security are necessary. The international community must continue to put direct pressure on the Government of Sudan and all warring parties to protect civilians and the workers racing to deliver humanitarian aid. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the driver and his family." The United Nations 30-day deadline to Khartoum to make progress in restoring order to Darfur ended on Monday. The UN Security Council Resolution 1556 calls for easing access for humanitarian relief, investigations into human rights abuses, increased security, and the resumption of peace talks between the warring parties. The UN Resolution and previous agreements hold the Government of Sudan responsible for disarming the Janjaweed, the militias responsible for many of the human rights abuses. At least 35,000 people have died and more than a million have been driven from their homes since fighting escalated last year. Disease and deaths are likely to peak just after the rainy season ends in October. CAFOD's Conflict Analyst Amelia Bookstein said: "The international community must remain vigilant and demand active and measurable progress against the UN Resolution. The warring parties must be left in no doubt that them international community is steadfast in its commitment to protect the people of Darfur. It will take an all-out effort of humanitarian agencies, local NGOs, and Governments working together to save as many lives as possible. We must do all we can to ensure that thousands more lives are not lost."

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