Regional concerns - Sudan - Important documents
Statement on Sudan
(WCC Executive Committee, Seoul, Korea, 24-27 August, 2004)
- Sudan has been plagued by war for all but a short period since its independence in 1956, primarily due to unequal distribution of wealth and power sharing, between north and south, centre and periphery. It is the largest country of the continent and shares boundaries with nine African states. Unless the Government of Sudan finds the way to peaceful co-existence between all Sudanese people and also with its neighbours, lasting and just peace will be difficult.
- The first civil war lasted for 17 years before a peace deal was brokered with the facilitation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) in 1972. In 1983, civil war erupted again between the government of Sudan and the Sudan people’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) as a result of failure to implement the 1972 agreement. Estimates are that 2.5-3 million people have died as a result of the war and over 4 million have fled their homes, many to neighbouring countries. Religious intolerance has made the conflict deeper.
- The conflict between the North and the South finally has the potential to end, due to the peace framework developed by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The signing of the Machakos Protocol in July 2002 marked a turning point towards a just and lasting peace between the government and SPLA/M. This protocol brought a cessation of hostilities and recognition of the right of self-determination for Southern Sudan. It was followed by five other protocols signed in 2003 and 2004. The agreements in the last three protocols addressed the most contentious and difficult issues. After six years of an interim period there will be a referendum in the South when the people will have the right to vote on unified Sudan or for separation. The success of the peace process is largely due to the pressure placed on both parties by the IGAD countries under the leadership of Kenya and the “friends of IGAD” – Norway, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
- A Comprehensive Peace Agreement is expected to be signed shortly. This agreement will have two basic components: a comprehensive cease–fire and modalities for its implementation. Negotiation for the Comprehensive Peace Agreement has already begun and both sides have expressed optimism that a final agreement will soon be concluded.
- There has been an active participation in Sudan from the WCC and member churches for more than 20 years. The Sudan Ecumenical Forum (SEF), to facilitate the role of the churches in peace making, appointed Rev. Dr Sam Kobia Special Ecumenical Envoy for Sudan in 2002. Churches and related agencies in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the UK and the US actively accompanied the Sudanese churches throughout this difficult period.
- While the ecumenical movement was monitoring the hopeful developments in the negotiation between the Government and the SPLA/M, reports started to come about the serious atrocities in Darfur. The UN officials have referred to the conditions in Darfur as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. The conflict between the rebels (the Sudan Liberation Army and the Justice and Equality Movement) and the pro-government militia, known as the Janjaweed, has resulted in a campaign of terror, led by the latter, against the predominantly African civilian population. Almost a quarter of the population of about 6 million people have fled their homes. It is estimated that around 30,000 people have died over the last 17 months and fears have been expressed that many more may die over the next months unless a political solution is found.
- The World Council of Churches, the All Africa Conference of Churches, the Sudan Ecumenical Forum and the churches of Sudan have made several statements and other interventions condemning the atrocities in Darfur and have urged the Government of Sudan to bring them to an end.
- The Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches meeting in Seoul from 24-27 August 2004, conscious of the agony and affliction of the people of Sudan and especially the women and children in the South and in Darfur:
8.1 On Southern Sudan
welcomes the peace protocols signed between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement on 26 May 2004, and encourages the parties to sign a final comprehensive peace agreement as soon as possible and ensure its full implementation;
acknowledges the efforts and the sacrifices made by the people of Sudan in their struggle for peace and appreciates the support given by IGAD and the Governments of Kenya, the US, Norway, the UK, Italy and Switzerland and urges the international community to ensure the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement and to monitor its implementation;
8.2 On Darfur
expresses its deep concern and dismay at the ongoing humanitarian disaster and the gross human rights violations;
urges the Government of Sudan to fulfil its obligations to protect its civilian population and to disarm the pro-Government militia - the Janjaweed - and calls on the parties to the conflict to respect the cease–fire and work for peace and reconciliation;
calls on the African Union and the United Nations to insist on the full deployment of independent Human Rights and cease-fire monitoring teams, investigate war crimes and provide for the presence of an adequate international peace-keeping force.
appeals to the neighbouring countries and the SPLA/M to assist in establishing alternative routes for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Darfur.
8.3 On the role of the churches
encourages the Sudan Council of Churches, the New Sudan Council of Churches and the Sudanese churches to fulfil their specific ministry of forgiveness and reconciliation at all levels of society;
expresses its appreciation to the Sudan Ecumenical Forum for the intensive and effective advocacy and efforts undertaken during the last ten years and urges it to continue with its international advocacy work;
appreciates and encourages the Action by Churches Together (ACT) International to continue its humanitarian support and urges all humanitarian actors to provide generous support for all those in need in the affected areas in Sudan;
urges the ecumenical fellowship to enhance the capacity of the Sudanese churches and its councils to enable them to respond effectively to the emerging challenges;
calls on the WCC, the AACC and the SEF to join the efforts to advocate for generous and substantial international support for the task of rehabilitation, reconstruction, repatriation, healing and reconciliation work of the churches.