THE Archbishop of Sudan and South Sudan, Dr Daniel Deng Bul,
speaking on Thursday evening last week in London, said that he
remained "hopeful" about the prospects for peace in South Sudan.
The next day, in Addis Ababa, he held the hands of the country's
two political rivals in prayer, before they signed a peace
In London for a meeting of the Anglican Communion Standing
Committee, Dr Deng left early after being summoned to take part in
negotiations on Friday between the President of South Sudan, Salva
Kiir, and the man accused of launching a coup against him, Riek
News, 20 December). The two men agreed to a ceasefire and the
creation of a transitional government.
Dr Deng was one of several church leaders present in Addis
Ababa, including the RC Archbishop of Juba, the Most Revd Paulino
Lukudu Loro FSCJ.
Shortly before the agreement was reached, the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called on Mr Kiir and
Dr Machar to secure peace "before the fire they have ignited
[brings] the entire country down in flames". She suggested that a
UN report on human rights violations in South Sudan, published last
week, included "many of the precursors of genocide: hate media
including calls to rape women of a particular ethnic group; attacks
on civilians in hospitals, churches, and mosques; even attacks on
people sheltering in UN compounds - all on the basis of the
victims' ethnicity". Based on more than 900 eyewitness interviews,
the report accuses both parties to the conflict of "gross
violations of international human rights and humanitarian law".
Since the crisis erupted last December, thousands of people have
been killed, more than a million have been displaced, and nearly
five million have been left in need of humanitarian assistance.
Within hours of the agreement, however, there were signs of its
disintegrating. The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, said on
Monday that he was "troubled by the accusations by both sides of
breaches of the ceasefire already, and I urge maximum restraint by
On Thursday of last week, Dr Deng, who was appointed to chair
South Sudan's national reconciliation committee last year, had
denied that it was primarily an ethnic conflict: "This is
political, not ethnic. . . . We have been living for hundreds of
years together. . . We never fought on ethnicity before; so that is
why we are dismissing it. . . When people are quarrelling, it is
not about ethnicity: it is a struggle for wealth."
Last week, however, the head of the UN Mission in South Sudan,
Hilde Johnson, spoke of two "particularly horrific" incidents: a
mass killing in a police station near Juba, and the killing of 200
people in Bentiu two weeks ago. In both instances, the killings
were "clearly ethnically motivated", she said.
Church leaders have sought to emphasise the complexity of the
conflict. The Archbishop of Canterbury told the Episcopal News
Service (ENS) last Friday that "to simplify it to the degree of
saying that it is a tribal conflict is insane. It's a mixture of
things. . .
"It has a very strong economic element. It's very strongly to do
with development and the allocation of resources within that
development. It has a lot to do with issues of justice, of
accountability, and non-impunity. And I think it has a lot to do
with leadership. And there are probably a million other reasons I
haven't thought of and don't know enough about. All I know is that
when we simplify conflicts, we drive out approaches to
CHRISTIANS must be "battering on the gates of heaven in
prayer" for South Sudan, the Archbishop of Canterbury said on
Thursday. In a video of his interview with the ENS, he described
the horrors he had witnessed on his visit to Bor in January (News, 7
February), where he consecrated a mass grave: "We stood with
the bodies at our feet, and the smell of death around us and we
prayed. . . [There were] perhaps six thousand dead, perhaps more.
Half of them buried. All the women raped. The most atrocious sexual
violence. It was very overwhelming, very desperate and
In addition to "remorseless, unceasing prayer", it was
important to take practical measures, he said: "Prevent the supply
of arms, hold up to ignominy those who fuel the conflict in one way
or another. Thirdly, make it clear that there will be no impunity
for war crimes, of which there are many, and fourthly, equip those,
particularly like the bishops, who will be responsible for
developing a culture of a society of reconciliation. Fifthly, meet
the needs of the refugees and IDPs."
He found hope in the work of the Church in the country,
and evidence of "what Anglicans, by the grace of God, seem to be
really rather good at doing, which is building bridges everywhere.
It's the churches that are the most effective network of support,
even across front lines."
The presence of God was evident in the fact that
Christians, who "could have just rolled over and said 'What can we
do?'" were "leading the struggle against violence."
He concluded: "I see God in the extraordinary fact that,
after half a century of civil war, and the hardening that that
causes, that we could stand in Bor and see people weeping with
compassion. Because the spirit of God still moves in love in their