Relaymedia

Churches Working for Peace in Sudan

( [email protected] ) Sep 24, 2004 08:44 PM EDT

The church community plays a key role in peacemaking in the Sudan, both in grassroots people-to-people peacemaking, and also in the international church community, says the Executive Secretary of the New Sudan Council of Churches

In the midst of the genocide happening in Darfur, Sudan, the churches are working for peace, said. Dr. Haruun Ruun, who spoke to a meeting of the Church World Service Education and Advocacy committee Wednesday, urged international churches and people of faith to advocate for a peaceful resolution in Sudan.

"The War has brought hatred and mistrust," Ruun said, referring to the 19-month conflict, which has been described by the United Nations as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The Arab-dominated government in Khartoum has denied widespread allegations that its troops and allied Arab militia, called the Janjaweed, have conducted an ethnic cleansing campaign against Darfur’s African population in retaliation for the uprising launched last year by the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equity rebel movements.

The United States, however, maintains that genocide has occurred in the Darfur conflict.

Since independence in 1956, Sudan has been in a perpetual state of conflict. In his meeting with the CWS Education and Advocacy committee, Ruun characterized the conflict as essentially not a religious conflict between Christian and Muslim, but rather a racial conflict between African and Arab people in the Sudan.

He said that the church community plays a key role in peacemaking in the Sudan, both in grassroots people-to-people peacemaking, and also in the international church community.

In the Sudan, the churches are addressing the hatred and mistrust caused by war by building bridges of dialogue among affected communities, Ruun said. A key part of their program is working with people to heal the memories of war. The peacemaking work of the New Sudan Council of Churches also emphasizes the challenges of governance and democracy in a post-conflict Sudan. "People born in violence are now being charged with democratic roles, responsibilities and obligations," Ruun stated, and the churches are preparing communities through education for the road to peace ahead.

With the escalation of violence in Darfur creating a deadlock in the peace process, Ruun called upon church partners to urge their governments to pressure the Sudan government to commit to the peace agreement but also achieve peaceful resolutions in the Darfur region.

Ruun thanked Church World Service for its 20 years of support and called CWS a "core partner" in the search for peace.

Meanwhile, according to the latest reports, authorities in Sudan's West Kordofan state have raised the state of alert there following an alleged foray into the region by Darfur rebels.