THE Archbishop of Sudan, Dr Daniel Deng Bul, has made an impassioned appeal for inter-national help, after the murder of the Archdeacon of Wernyol, the Ven. Joseph Garang, as he stood at the altar of his church last Friday to conduct morning prayer.
The Archdeacon was one of 43 people killed and more than 60 injured in raids on Twic East County in Jonglei. Episcopal Church sources told Dr Deng that the attackers had been well armed and well organised.
This was, therefore, no tribal conflict, but “a deliberately organised attack on civilians by those that are against the peace in Southern Sudan”, he believed. The Archbishop appealed in May to the “international donor and diplomatic community in the Sudan” to do more to safeguard the country’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) (News, 15 May).
Attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) were making communities increasingly fearful, he said on that occasion. He said this week that his suspicions had been vindic-ated by news of more LRA attacks in Ezo County, two weeks ago.
Three people had been murdered, and children had been abducted from the church building. Several thousand more had been displaced into Ezo town. Better military security could have prevented the attack, the Bishop of Ezo, the Rt Revd John Zawo, believes.
Dr Deng appeals to the government and the international community at large “to act swiftly in order to prevent such atrocities from occurring in the future”. He warns: “Continuing violence such as this is not only a crime against the innocent people killed and injured: it is a crime against the peace of Sudan, and, if left unchecked, will do great damage to the smooth implementation of the [CPA].”
He further warns that unchecked violence would mean “no hope of conducting free and fair elections in these areas in 2010, and no hope of a fair referendum on Southern secession in 2011”.
The Archbishop is appealing for humanitarian assistance for the 24,000 displaced and injured people in Twic East County, and for the 15,000 in Ezo County. He appeals especially for help for the Archdeacon’s widow and children.
Concern has been growing over LRA activity in the border region of south-west Sudan. Recent reports from the humanitarian agency Médecins Sans Frontières describe communities as filled with terror, and the attacks have intensified calls for the world’s leaders to refocus on the threat posed by the LRA, Joseph Kony’s rebel army.
Official estimates that the LRA has abducted 20,000 children over the past two decades are thought to be out of date. Numbers could be as high as 60,000. The UN launched a new appeal two weeks ago for armed groups in the region to release all children. The secretary-general of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, also called for an independent commission of inquiry into rape in Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sudan.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for the government of Southern Sudan to increase the numbers of police and security forces in vulnerable areas, and for a culture of accountability in which crimes are investigated and punished.
“UN peacekeepers need to consider all the options to protect in remote and hostile terrain, including foot patrols and frequent overflights,” said Georgette Gagnon, the Africa director at HRW. “They should work closely with the state and local authorities to develop strategies for effectively protecting civilians from more attacks.”
Campaigners for a sustainable peace in Sudan have pressed the governments of the United States and the UK, as guarantors of the CPA, to prevent its unravelling (News, 10 July).
Famine could also be imminent in parts of Southern Sudan, the UN has warned. Deteriorating security and the onset of the rainy season mean that food may have to be airlifted to an estimated 1.3 million people.