NEW YORK - The Union for Reform Judaism is giving $80,000 to organizations dedicated to helping the men, women, and children affected by the ongoing violence in Sudan as its first allocation of dollars donated to its Disaster Relief Fund.
Working closely with the Jewish Coalition for Sudan Relief and the American Jewish World Service, which have assisted in identifying appropriate recipients for these funds, the Union will contribute funds to the International Rescue Committee, CARE USA, and Catholic Relief Services.
Over the past year, Sudan has suffered a humanitarian crisis, as hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians have been raped, murdered, and displaced from their homes in the Darfur region by government-backed militias fanning the flames of ethnic warfare. Tens of thousands have died in murderous raids by these militias, as well as from dehydration and hunger; more than one million have been displaced, and two hundred thousand refugees have fled to the neighboring country of Chad.
"For thousands of years, Jews have been among the quintessential victims of persecution and oppression simply because of who we were, because of what we believed," said Rabbi David Saperstein, co-director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism. "Through their generosity, Reform Jews everywhere have shown that they will never stand silent in the face of genocidal activity - that they will stand up and help those who are facing this terrible affront to all humanity."
The Disaster Relief Fund is a mechanism by which the Reform Movement raises money for the victims of natural and man-made disasters. In previous years, funds have been raised for families and small businesses affected by the September 11 attacks, as well as victims of hurricanes in Florida and Haiti, floods in North Dakota, and earthquakes in Central America. Contributions are made by individual Reform Jews, businesses, and congregations that collect funds and send them to the national office for distribution.
The funds will be allocated as follows:
$50,000 to the International Rescue Committee to support the Child Services Center in the city of Al Fasher, Darfur
42,000 internally displaced people now reside in the Northern Darfur capital city of Al Fasher - and hundreds are orphaned children who spend their days loitering, begging, searching for food, and working menial jobs to sustain themselves. IRC's Child Services Center will focus on alleviating the vulnerability of these children living and working without parental care in the Al Fasher markets, and will provide counseling, referrals, food, healthcare, and a space where children can find safety by participating in psychosocial and recreational activities, basic education classes, and technical skills classes. The Union for Reform Judaism is the primary funder of this project, and American Jewish World Service is contributing an additional $15,000 to fully fund it.
$15,000 to CARE USA
CARE USAis working in both Sudan and Chad to help people who are being affected by the conflict, partnering with the World Food Program and the United Nations to deliver food to 318,000 people and distribute mosquito nets, blankets, soap, and water containers to approximately 400,000 people in Greater Darfur; provide water and sanitation to 48,000 people; open mobile health clinics and provide psychosocial support to another 30,000 people; strengthen civilian protection services; provide similar assistance to 59,000 refugees in four camps in Chad; and operate a therapeutic feeding hospital for severely malnourished children in the city of Nyala, in western Darfur.
$15,000 to Catholic Relief Services
CRS is conducting non-food distributions to refugees and displaced people, providing many with their first package of relief supplies since being driven from their homes. These kits include essential hygiene and shelter materials to help people cope with harsh and volatile camp conditions. Already, CRS has reached 20,000 people in remote settlements in West Darfur, Sudan. Through its distribution, CRS expects to reach a total of 150,000 people located in El Geneina and along the northeastern border with Chad. CRS has also worked with UNICEF and the Ministry of Education to construct temporary schools and provide teachers to continue the education of children living within camps.
The Union for Reform Judaism has collected an additional $58,000 on top of the $80,000 allocated in this grant cycle, and is in the process of evaluating a variety of organizations to which it will give this money.
Donations are still being accepted by the Disaster Relief Fund. For more information or to donate, visit the Web site at www.urj.org/relief. Canadian citizens can donate by sending checks made out to CCRJ Sudan Relief to the Canadian Council for Reform Judaism, 3845 Bathurst St. Suite 301, Toronto, Ontario, M3H 3N2.
For additional information on the genocide in Sudan and the Union for Reform Judaism's activism on behalf of its victims, visit www.rac.org.