SOURCE: Aid Still Required

March 04, 2008 23:38 ET

Kobe Bryant Rallies Support for Darfur Through Non-Profit Organization Aid Still Required

(Video and EPK Available at EPK.tv - Aid Still Required)

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - March 4, 2008) - Kobe Bryant is taking a stand for the people of Darfur. In a public service announcement issued through Los Angeles-based non-profit Aid Still Required (www.AidStillRequired.org) and aired today on ESPN, Bryant calls for united action to stop the conflict.

"In Darfur, hundreds of thousands have been murdered, mutilated -- families torn apart," says Bryant. "We have the power to save lives, to restore lives, to change the world."

Bryant joins NBA notables Steve Nash, Tracy McGrady, Luol Deng, Derek Fisher, Baron Davis, Grant Hill, Emeka Okafor, Andrew Bynum and many more in speaking out about the atrocities. Celebrities and dignitaries involved in similar advocacy include Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Sheryl Crow, Mia Farrow, Common, Ellen DeGeneres, Donovan McNabb, Jessica Biel, Don Cheadle, Desmond Tutu, Barack Obama and President Bush. A few weeks ago Steven Spielberg quit his Beijing Olympics Artistic Director position in protest of China's policies regarding Darfur.

Between 200,000 and 450,000 people have been slaughtered in Darfur over the past five years and 2.5 million have fled to refugee camps. Horrible atrocities have been consistently reported by those in the camps. Last summer the UN began a peace initiative which has proved only partially successful. Recently, fighting between Sudanese troops and rebel forces has resumed and battles in neighboring Chad have begun.

Bryant's call is for the people of the world to come together and help. "If we can unite people who are willing to take a stand, miracles can happen," says Bryant, asking, "What do you stand for?"

Bryant is backing Aid Still Required's two-pronged mission urging the international community to provide an adequate peace-keeping force in Darfur and to revitalize the region through sustainable processes.

Over the past 20 years Northern Africa has endured a drought which has left it an arid wasteland. The effect of the drought is so devastating UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon blames the Darfur conflict primarily on this change in climate. "The Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis," says Ban. "It is no accident that the violence in Darfur erupted during the drought. Any real solution to Darfur's troubles involves sustained economic development."

Before the drought, the Darfur region of Sudan held enough fertile land to satisfy the population. Aid Still Required is readying a reforestation program which will restore arable land and provide an economic foundation for villagers when they return home. ASR's project, which has already received approval from the Khartoum government for a pilot program, cultivates indigenous trees which replenish water tables, develops shrubs which grow medicinal herbs, and employs bees for cross-pollination and honey-production.

"We believe everyone, everywhere is entitled to live in dignity, health and peace," says Hunter Payne who founded Aid Still Required with his wife Andrea. "The people of Darfur have been utterly denied this. Villagers are being systematically tortured, disfigured and slaughtered. Collectively we have the means to stop the violence and to restore their lives. Who are we if we stand idly by and watch yet another genocide take place? We must act and we must act now before more unspeakable atrocities take place."

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Ira Newble began the NBA players Darfur campaign late last season by writing a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao asking him to use his considerable influence on Sudan to stop the violence. 12 Cavaliers signed the letter. Separately last summer Newble and Tracy McGrady traveled to refugee camps in Chad on the Darfur border. Both have professed their trips to be life-altering.

15 NBA players have taped public service announcements, all calling for support. Bryant says it this way: "Please take a stand with us. Together we have the power to change the world."

PSA Available March 4 - 7:00 PM ET - EPK.tv

Available for interviews: Hunter Payne, Andrea Payne -- Founders, Aid Still Required

Aid Still Required (ASR) is a non-profit, humanitarian movement focused on rebuilding communities through sustainable solutions in the aftermath of natural disasters and human crises. We believe everyone, everywhere, is entitled to live in dignity, health and peace. We view post-crisis situations as opportunities to do just that. By approaching restoration on an ecologically friendly basis and utilizing a region's native environment, Aid Still Required "builds back better" and builds back green. www.aidstillrequired.org

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