MARCH 28, 2003
Johnny Zokovitch, 352-219-8419
Mike Jones, 814-964-0078
Religious Leaders Meet With U.N. Secretary
General to Urge Humanitarian Mission to Iraq;
Rev. Jesse Jackson, United Methodist Bishop Joseph
Sprague and Pax Christi USA National Coordinator Dave Robinson
Ask Kofi Annan to Support Bombing Stoppage for Aid Delivery
YORK - March 28 - Reverend Jesse Jackson, United Methodist Bishop
C. Joseph Sprague and Pax Christi USA National Coordinator Dave
Robinson met with United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan
Thursday morning to urge the U.N. to support a call for the delivery
and facilitation of humanitarian aid. In a private meeting with
the Secretary General, the three interfaith leaders discussed
the looming humanitarian catastrophe facing the Iraqi people as
a result of the U.S.-led war against Iraq.
the group of religious leaders that "five million Iraqis are without
safe water and sanitation right now. Ten million need food and
one million children are chronically malnourished." As the war
intensifies, the devastation to the civilian population of Iraq
is expected to deepen and spread.
Due to what
they see as a state of paralysis in international diplomacy, the
three religious leaders approached Annan with the offer that religious
organizations and NGOs could step forward to broker a cease-fire
and respond to the growing humanitarian crisis in Iraq. They proposed
that a coalition of religious leaders and NGOs could work together
to avert further destruction and limit the damage to both the
environment and the infrastructure of Iraq. Jackson also emphasized
the role that religious leaders could play in seeing that both
sides treat POWs according to the rules of the Geneva Convention
and protect noncombatants.
"From the beginning,
the Catholic church has stated that this war lacks justification
across the board," said Robinson. "At this point, we need to shift
our analysis to how this war is now being waged. We demand reports
on the use by U.S. forces of depleted uranium, cluster bombs and
the number of civilian casualties."
meeting, the Secretary General thanked the leaders for the role
that religious organizations have played in trying to stop the
war against Iraq. Annan thanked Robinson for the efforts of his
organization, Pax Christi USA, in attempting to bring Pope John
Paul II to the U.N. to make an appeal to the conscience of the
nations of the Security Council.
at the U.N. occurred just 15 hours after Robinson and Sprague
were released from police custody following a nonviolent action
in Washington D.C. on Wednesday.
"It's of the
utmost importance that those of us who wish to stop this war use
every tool at our disposal," said Robinson. "We need to be in
the streets and in the halls of power."
USA is the national Catholic peace movement, reaching over half
a million Catholics in the United States. Our membership includes
over 140 U.S. bishops, 550 religious communities, 450 parish sponsors
and 250 local groups. Pax Christi USA is a section of Pax Christi
International, the international Catholic peace movement with
consultative status at the United Nations.
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