World Vision Holds Conference in Effort to Bring Peace in Sudan

( [email protected] ) May 19, 2004 11:06 PM EDT

World Vision recently held a conference in Sudan with various humanitarian groups and church leaders from May 10-14 in collaboration with the Gogrial Relief Rehabilitation and Development Foundation (GRDF). World Vision’s effort to provide relief and development to Sudan has been ongoing since 1989. The conference was held in Gorgrial County, Bahr el Ghazal Region in Sudan, which has been devastated due to civil war over the last two decades. About 120 leaders attended the conference.

Steve Matthews, Emergency Response Communication manager of World Vision told Christian Post that the goal of the conference was to promote grass roots level effort to bring peace and overturn insecurity in Sudan.

“Southern Sudan has been in conflict ever since they gained independence from the British for 50 years,” said Matthews, “ Focus of this conference was a grass roots effort to bring local leaders and community leaders to talk about agreements on land grazing, water sharing, distribution of humanitarian aid so that it could be given equally. We also addressed the issues concerning human rights, especially that of women and girl children, and education. Still Sudan is a very patriarchic society where women are treated more as possession. The idea was to educate women to help empower themselves to break away from it.”

This war, which has left more than 2 million people dead and 4 million displaced, has continued to propagate at local level between different ethnic groups.

Carrie Vandewint, WV Advocacy and Peace Building Officer, said in a press statement that the conference also informed the community of Gogrial’s peace settlement process.

“It’s also important that we discuss past conflict-related grievances and resolve current inter-tribal disputes, as well as local governance and the rule of law,” she explained. “The community has to agree on ways to resolve future issues and disputes, and how to integrate former soldiers into the community.”

According to World Vision, there has been no peace-building workshop specifically for communities in Gogrial although so many people long for peace desperately. World Vision believes peace at community level could avoid some more bloodshed and be a major step toward stabilizing communities in one of the most vulnerable regions.

The conference just held in Sudan was one of the many conferences that World Vision has been leading since its outreach to Sudan in 1989. World Vision will be holding more conferences through out the year. Sudan is in need of more help as so many people are dying of war and malnutrition.

Matthews said, “There should be more food available. People are hungry for peace. They lived in a war for many generations. No one wants to continue that way.”

He also commented that it’s necessary to offer opportunities for Sudanese to bring peace and that such conference World Vision organizes are absolute necessary to start solving problems at the grass roots level.

“It’s just a starting point in order to bring order to Sudan, not fall back into conflict. This isn’t like a victorious moment. This is the part of process, pushing over the coming months and coming years,” Matthews said.