Praying for peace in Sudan

By Minaz Kerawala, Communications and Public Relations Advisor

On April 15, 2023, armed conflict broke out between General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Sudan’s army chief and de facto leader, and General Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo, head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. A week later, Pope Francis invited the faithful to pray for the Sudanese people.

By last week, multiple ceasefires had failed, and the unabated conflict had claimed some 850 lives and displaced more than 1.4 million people.

Heeding the Holy Father’s call to prayer, Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada organized a national online Rosary for peace in Sudan on Saturday, May 27, 2023. Over 170 people from across the country signed up for the event.

Our New Brunswick animator Nicolas Kalgora and our Alberta animator Monica Nino hosted the rosary in French and English, respectively. In her welcome address, communications and campaigns director Hélène Gobeil noted, “The situation [in Sudan] has been grave since several weeks.” She thanked participants for joining in the rosary, which she said would be recorded and sent to our Sudanese partners as a gesture of Canadians’ solidarity.

Humanitarian programs officer Dominique Godbout then explained the antecedents, antagonists and effects of the conflict. Using field intelligence from partners with whom she maintains daily contact, Godbout mapped the casualty and displacement numbers and summarized the impacts of the destabilization on agriculture, healthcare and humanitarian aid. “Almost all hospitals in Khartoum and Darfur are no longer functioning,” she reported, adding that a fifth of the Sudanese population stood to face acute food insecurity in the coming months.

Godbout also provided an overview of our project with CAFOD, which has served 12,500 Ethiopian refugees in the Tunaydbah Refugee Camp in Al Qadarif (Gadaref) state. She described how the physical, social and protection needs of survivors of gender-based violence are especially catered to in a dedicated safe space for women and girls.

To reflect the universality of the aspiration for peace and the multiculturality of the participants, volunteers recited five decades of the rosary in English (Monica Nino and Oscar Javier Baron Ruiz), French (Aïcha Saoukpamrou), Arabic (Ingrid Boutros) and Spanish (Ivanna Romero). For each decade, Godbout contributed an intention that tied in with the concerns of the conflict-affected Sudanese people. Participants prayed and responded in their preferred languages.

Finally, the Most Rev. Pierre Goudreault, bishop of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière and member of our national council, offered the closing benediction. He thanked everyone who had helped organize the rosary. “Peace begins in our hearts, and prayer is an important path of peace and solidarity,” he said, praying, “May the meditation of the rosary that we celebrated today touch the hearts of the political leaders, so that peace may come back to Sudan.”

Watch the recording of the rosary here:

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