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Catherine Hicks From The WB's 7th Heaven Endorses CRS Sudan Relief Efforts

By Michael Ireland : Nov 4, 2005  ASSIST News Service

For more than two years, conflict has raged in Sudan's impoverished western region of Darfur, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives and driving millions from their homes. But Catholic Relief Services is right there, extending practical help and the love of God.

Catherine Hicks And despite the news of peace overtures, thousands of displaced people continue to die each month, victims of starvation, disease and violence. (Pictured: Catherine Hicks plays pastor's wife Annie Camden on the WB's "7TH HEAVEN" television series. Photo credit: www.catherinehicksonline.com).

Right now, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is in the camps, providing the basics of life -- food, water, shelter -- and struggling to keep families and hope alive. Millions of lives remain at stake. The need for relief is immense and urgent.

"The crisis in Darfur needs our attention now. We cannot close our eyes or hearts to the thousands of people -- mostly women and children living in the midst of tragedy. I've been a strong supporter of Catholic Relief Services for many years and truly believe in their commitment to saving lives around the world. Please help today," says Catherine Hicks, star of the WB's "7th Heaven"

Hicks, the lead actress who plays Annie Camden on the WB's "7th Heaven" TV series, and who is a long-time supporter of Catholic Relief Services, has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the organization's relief efforts in Darfur, Sudan.

Hicks recently began a t-shirt campaign that implores people to support the Darfur emergency by wearing shirts that read "Sudan: Stop the Violence." She will distribute the t-shirts to over 300 Hollywood celebrities. With the t-shirt comes a message, "By making people pay attention to this horrifying crisis, you could literally help save thousands of lives."

Last month, CRS began a national public service announcement campaign in which Hicks described the emergency and urged viewers to pay attention to the crisis. The purpose of the announcement is to raise awareness about the displaced, starving and dying in Darfur.

"We are at risk of losing the world's attention as well as many of the resources that have been pledged to Africa," said Hicks.

"Famine and disease are taking 6,000 lives each month. We were shocked by Hotel Rwanda, which happened 10 years ago. Let us not wait another 10 years to be shocked by what is happening today in Darfur."

Ken Hackett, President of CRS, says: "Catherine has been a CRS donor for more than a decade. Her loyal support for the people of Sudan echoes CRS' unwavering commitment to our relief and development programs throughout the world." (MORE. . .)

CRS says that since fighting broke out in Darfur in western Sudan in February 2003, the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of western Sudan continues to deteriorate in the face of waning international attention to the crisis.

An e-mail update from CRS states: "People are enduring targeted attacks, vast insecurity, as well as widespread hunger and disease. Relief efforts are hampered by lack of security and a shortage of relief supplies and personnel. To date, some 2.61 million people are affected by this crisis, with 1.85 million internally displaced and 193,000 living as refugees in Chad. Estimates are that as many as 300,000 people have already died in the conflict in Darfur, and 6,000 more die each month."

CRS says the situation in Darfur is connected to the larger conflict that ravaged southern Sudan for 45 years, threatens to resume in eastern Sudan, and rages in northern Uganda. The interplay of these events as well as Sudan's relationship with its neighbors, the handling of its oil wealth, and its systematic violation of human rights makes Sudan the most critical country in Africa right now.

CRS has offices in Khartoum and the town of El Geneina in West Darfur, and is implementing operations to include the distribution of food and nonfood items; training interventions and programs; water and sanitation; psychosocial support; relief commodities; and shelter assistance. Insecurity remains a great concern for aid workers throughout the region. Across the border in eastern Chad, CRS, with its local partner, is managing two refugee camps for tens of thousands of people.

Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency provides assistance to people in 99 countries and territories based on need, regardless of race, nationality or creed.







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