1st December 2022
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Religious organizations urge gov’t to end killings, displacement of civilians

Author: Okot Emmanuel | Published: Saturday, July 10, 2021

File: Some displaced people from Mukaya, Yei River County | Credit | facebook/John Bida

As South Sudan marks its 10th Independence anniversary, a consortium of churches and faith-based organizations have expressed concerns over the continued violence in some parts of the country.

It is referring to attacks on church actors, humanitarian workers and human rights activists in recent months.

The Ecumenical Network of South Sudan, Europe and North America comprises more than 20 churches and faith-based organizations.

In its statement on South Sudan’s 10th independence anniversary Friday, the group commended the unity government for important steps taken in the last two years towards the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement.

However, it urged the government to take deliberate steps to immediately end the suffering of civilians, killings, displacement, sexual violence against women and girls and starvation.

Despite attaining its independence from Sudan 10 years ago, South Sudan descended into two major civil wars in 2013 and 2016 leaving an estimated 400,000 people dead, millions displaced internally and as refugees in neighboring countries.

The UN warns of deteriorating humanitarian situation even after the signing of the 2018 revitalized agreement.

The ecumenical body expressed its solidarity with the people of South Sudan whom it says have for many years borne the burden of conflicts and injustice, instead of enjoying the fruits of a new system.

It further reiterated its solidarity with church leaders, peace building and human rights actors that it says have undertaken invaluable peace work at a local level to mend and restore relationships, monitor potential violence, prevent and manage inter-communal conflicts while taking care of the trauma under most difficult circumstances.

The Ecumenical Network of South Sudan, Europe and North America, urges parties to the conflict in South Sudan to lay down arms, uphold the protection of civilians, prohibit their respective forces to commit, command or condone acts of violence.

It further calls on the unity government to continue engaging the non-signatories to the revitalized agreement in a productive dialogue for lasting peace in the country.

It also appeals to the international community and UN agencies to urgently provide increased funding to locally-driven church and women-led peace initiatives, to comprehensively address the root causes and long-term effects of conflict through Advocacy, Neutral Forums, Healing and Reconciliation.

The group further emphasized that to enable full civilian protection, the government needs to pay greater attention to transitional justice, accountability, compensation, and reconciliation processes to address cycles of revenge as well as transform and unify the army to include all the communities in South Sudan.

The Ecumenical Network include Act Church of Sweden, Tearfund, Christian Aid UK, Christian Council of Norway, The Church of England- Diocese of Salisbury, The Church of Scotland, Danish Church Aid, Council of Churches in the Netherlands, Finn Church Aid, Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Norwegian Church Aid, South Sudan Council of Churches and World Council of Churches among others.

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