Chad: Many are called

Responding to the humanitarian crisis caused by conflict in Darfur, western Sudan, and underscoring a request from the Archbishop of Ndjamena for help, Fr General sent out a special call to the Society early in 2004 for volunteers willing to spend a year in Chad on a Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) programme coordinating education efforts and community services in three refugee camps on the Sudanese border. His call did not go unheeded. Eighteen Jesuits between 25 and 73 years of age answered this call; and more would have come if the knowledge of French had not been a requirement. A team of three was formed. At the end of June part of the team (formed by Belgian Jesuit Philippe Marbaix of JRS-Burundi, and Italian Jesuit Gianfranco ?Jack? Iacuzzi SJ, formerly with JRS, Albania and now Social Sector Coordinator there) set out for Chad, accompanied by Fr Lluís Magriñà SJ, JRS International Director. By the end of August, Fr Pat Samway SJ, Professor at St Joseph?s University in Philadelphia, will join them. This small Jesuit team will live in Abeché (Eastern Chad) together with Fr Joel Roumeas SJ, a parish priest. Fr Roumeas is very grateful to Fr General for his new Jesuit companions, and for the help they will give to the refugees; the nearest Jesuit hitherto has been almost 300 km away! The team will be working in close collaboration with the local Caritas chapter (SECADEV), coordinating and organising education, formation and other assistance activities for the most vulnerable dwellers in the camps. The situation on the ground is extremely volatile and subject to change. Early reports received by JRS say that the refugees – mostly women and children ? are living in camps that face an acute water shortage, a situation likely to deteriorate as more refugees stream in. Compelled to stay near the border, they are particularly vulnerable to attack from Sudanese militias, and as the numbers increase, refugees will be competing with the local population for food, a fact that is bound to make their plight worse. [HL40703] For a JRS special report on Chad: