CHURCHES in South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, must be a “grass-roots delivery mechanism” to bring education and development to the region, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.
Dr Williams hosted a round-table meeting at Lambeth with charities, politicians, churches, and academics to look at the new state’s development needs, and peace and security issues. He emphasised that the needs of women must be a high priority, and said that the Mothers’ Union was an “effective driver” for empowering women.
The largely Christian South Sudan split from the Muslim North Sudan earlier this month. Celebrations, however, have been marred by violence in border areas.
A leaked UN report accuses the army and police in Sudan of possible war crimes in the border state of Southern Kordofan, alleging the targeting of those who supported the South Sudanese army during its long fight with the Khartoum government.
The UN mission in Sudan says that the army has carried out killings, abductions, and attacks on churches, and has forced thousands to flee. It says that these acts may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The leaked report also says that Sudanese forces have harassed the UN mission in Sudan by intimidation and ill-treatment amounting to torture. It says that the international community should insist that Sudan bring those responsible to justice.
The Archbishop of Sudan, Dr Daniel Deng, has this week demanded that the international community take the protection of civilians seriously.
A diocesan car and its occupants were seized at gunpoint in the North last month, and another car belonging to the diocese was shot at several times in the city of Khartoum, Dr Deng said. He called on the international community to act “to ensure that the harassment and persecution of Africans and Christians still living and working in the North does not escalate into the kind of violence we are now witnessing in other parts of the Sudan”.
The Bishop of Aweil, the Rt Revd Abraham Yel Nhial, said that people in the disputed border region of Abyei continued to suffer.
The Northern army and allied militias attacked Abyei in May, displacing tens of thousands of people across three states. The displacement meant that one planting season was missed, creating a huge need for food. Bishop Yel Nhial recently delivered nearly 50 tonnes of relief material donated by church groups.
“We are grateful for the support from international partners, but the need still remains,” the Bishop said.