KIM LAWTON, guest anchor: In other news, human rights activists demonstrated in front of the Sudanese Embassy in Washington.
Representatives from the U.S. Episcopal Church, Amnesty International, and others protested ongoing human rights violations in Sudan. Last week, Sudanese police raided the Episcopal Church headquarters in Khartoum and evicted church officials. The protesters also denounced what they called genocide being waged in the southern and western parts of the country. For more than 20 years, Sudan has been locked in a brutal civil war between the Islamist government in the North and the Christian and animist South. In recent months, a new conflict has also raged in the western Darfur region, which is predominantly Muslim. This week, the Sudanese government signed a preliminary peace agreement with southern rebels, but details are still being worked out.
Evangelist Franklin Graham is among those who are skeptical the peace plan will hold. Graham's relief group, Samaritan's Purse, is active in Southern Sudan, where war and famine have taken a devastating toll. Fred de Sam Lazaro traveled to Sudan to see their work.
FRED DE SAM LAZARO: This hospital, in the remote town of Lui, feels much like a living history museum of pathology.
KAREN DANIELS (Nursing Director, Lui Hospital): These patients all have sleeping sickness, at the stage one level.
DE SAM LAZARO: Sleeping sickness, leprosy, and parasitic diseases -- long eradicated or rarely heard of in the West -- are common here.
Ms. DANIELS: This is a kid with extreme ascites (swollen belly).
DE SAM LAZARO: They are consequences of grinding poverty and war.
Dr. WARREN COOPER (Surgeon, Lui Hospital): I'm not sure exactly how it happened but there was a grenade and he was trying to throw the grenade away but it exploded and it blew off three of his fingers.
DE SAM LAZARO: Cooper and Daniels work for Samaritan's Purse, a Christian relief agency that took over this hospital seven years ago, after removing mines and installing fox holes. Samaritan's purse is led by American evangelist Franklin Graham. It has a reputation of going where few others can or do.
ROGER SANDBERG, JR. (Samaritan's Purse): The Lord has blessed us with an amazing support and that comes also in the form of airplanes and pilots. So we are a group that goes where we hear there is a need and where other groups cannot access for any number of reasons. We came in at the invitation of this church and right after the SPLA had driven back the government soldiers. The SPLA is the Sudanese People's Liberation Army.
DE SAM LAZARO: For much of its independent history and for the past 20 straight years, Sudan has been mired in a civil war, pitting an Arabic-speaking Muslim North against a mostly Christian and black South -- itself divided into several fighting factions. More than two million people have been killed.
In recent months, a nervous calm has come to parts of southern Sudan. U.S.-based evangelical Christian groups have been deeply involved.
Franklin Graham has established a rapport with the Sudan's controversial president, Omar el-Bashir. It's one reason why Graham is allowed to run some relief operations in government-held Muslim areas as well as the Christian South. Evangelical Christian leaders have also prevailed on the Bush administration to push for peace here. As peace talks continue in neighboring Kenya, a slow rebuilding has begun.
Back in Lui, there's no money to rebuild the Episcopal bishop's bombed out residence. It's hardly the most pressing need anyway.
Bishop BULLEN DOLLI (Episcopal Church of Sudan): We need manpower and training for young people. We've been now in the war for 20 years. Children have been born in war, they grew up in war, and some died in war. So we are so backward. We don't know what to do. That's the great challenge for us.