The leaders of the churches in Sudan released a statement on the “current political situation in the country,” following the ecumenical meeting of the Sudan Council of Churches in Khartoum, August 30, 2004. The statement addressed both the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and the militia attacks in the Upper Nile.
“We are deeply concerned that the progress in the Sudan IGAD Peace Process is slowing down,” the church leaders wrote.
“In Darfur the GoS (Government of Sudan) is involved in a brutal war that knows no ethics and international regulations of war. Although humanitarian access to the needy in the region has improved, the situation on the ground leaves a lot to be desired,” the statement explained.
The statement ultimately called on the international community to intervene in pressuring the “Sudanese warring parties” to work toward lasting peace.
“The Sudanese Church leaders therefore call upon the international community to exert sustained pressure on the Sudanese warring parties, and in particular the GoS to commit itself to the ongoing peace initiatives in Naivasha (Kenya) and Abuja (Nigeria) that aim at ending the armed conflicts in the Sudan peacefully as soon as possible so that the Sudanese people live a dignified life,” the statement concluded.
Leaders who signed onto the statement included: The Rt Revd Daniel Deng Bul, Bishop of Renk
Episcopal Church of Sudan; The Revd James Par Tap, Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church; The Revd Fermo Ogilla Utong, Sudan Pentecostal Church;The Revd Mahgoub Kago Artloke, Sudanese Church of Christ; The Revd Daniel Oballa Okony, Presbyterian Church of Sudan; Fr Antonious Fakious, Coptic Orthodox Church Omdurman; The Revd Samuel G El Sadik, Ethiopean Orthodox Church; The Revd James Lagos Alexander, Africa Inland Church; The Revd John El Sir, Sudan Interior Church; The Revd John Tong Puk, SCC Chairman; and The Revd Paul Chol Deng,SCC General Secretary.
The following is the entire statement of the Sudanese Council of Churches:
We, the Sudanese church leaders of the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) met at the SCC Headquarters in Khartoum on 30 August 2004 to reflect on the current political situation in the country, in particular the issue of war and peace. We met at the time by which a full peace accord was due to have been signed by the Government of Sudan (GoS) and the SPLM/A, and when the UN Representative was to report to the UN Security Council on the situation in Darfur. We shared and discussed information that seems to indicate that the road to a just and comprehensive peace in the Sudan is still long.
We are deeply concerned that the progress in the Sudan IGAD Peace Process is slowing down. The parties to the IGAD peace process have been out of session since the last adjournment in July and despite the shuttle diplomacy being carried out by the IGAD Secretariat, the parties are no longer experiencing the sustained pressure from the international community, in particular the IGAD Partners, due to the new and equally devastating conflict that emerged in Western Sudan, the Darfur region early last year.
While the Sudanese people have been and are still earnestly waiting for the completion of the IGAD peace process, the situation on the ground is discouraging. The Government of Sudan seems to be preparing for war as indicated in the Upper Nile region. Early this year, the government militias in Upper Nile, assisted by the Sudanese regular forces attacked and burned down over 22 Shilluk villages. This resulted in killings, loss of property and the displacement of about 26,000 civilians to Malakal town.
Last month, in Western Upper Nile, the same militias attacked the SPLA, and during the combat the area was also devastated. Further, other activities such as the digging of trenches in towns like Juba and the instigation of the southern militias by the GoS to claim inclusion in the ongoing IGAD peace process as an independent force, show clearly that there is lack of commitment by the GoS to the IGAD peace process which has already dealt with the most contentious issues between the Sudanese warring parties.
In Darfur the GoS is involved in a brutal war that knows no ethics and international regulations of war. Although humanitarian access to the needy in the region has improved, the situation on the ground leaves a lot to be desired. The government intransigence has led to the continued insecurity. Government backed militias known as Janjaweed are still operational. The influx of civilians to the displaced camps continues. The number of the displaced has recently risen to over one million and is expected to rise in the period ahead unless the Janjaweed who are still posing a security threat to the civilian population are contained and the hostilities by both sides brought to end.
The Sudanese Church leaders therefore call upon the international community to exert sustained pressure on the Sudanese warring parties, and in particular the GoS to commit itself to the ongoing peace initiatives in Naivasha (Kenya) and Abuja (Nigeria) that aim at ending the armed conflicts in the Sudan peacefully as soon as possible so that the Sudanese people live a dignified life. The Naivasha Protocols have raised the hope of the Sudanese people and provided a unique opportunity for the achievement of peace. We call upon the Sudanese people and the international community to ensure that this opportunity is not lost. We further call for intensified efforts to restore security and bring humanitarian assistance to the people in urgent need in both Darfur and Upper Nile region.