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Welby ‘worried’ about South Sudan

31 January 2014

REUTERS

Firepower: a rocket fired by the SPLA government forces flies over a hut burnt by a previous rocket, near Bor, South Sudan, on Sunday

Firepower: a rocket fired by the SPLA government forces flies over a hut burnt by a previous rocket, near Bor, South Sudan, on Sunday

AS THE Archbishop of Canterbury prepared to fly out to South Sudan this week, it appeared that the ceasefire signed on Thursday of last week was about to disintegrate.

Archbishop Welby was due to arrive in South Sudan on Thursday before visiting Burundi, Rwanda, and the DRC. The trip is part of his plan to visit all the Archbishops in the Anglican Communion during his first 18 months in office.

On Monday, he told the BBC's Hardtalk programme: "The first duty of an Archbishop of Canterbury is to be alongside the extraordinarily brilliant people who are leading our Churches in many of these countries. Archbishop Daniel in the South Sudan is up against it. I want to be with him."

Since fighting broke out in South Sudan in December ( News, 20 December), 490,000 people have been internally displaced. On Thursday of last week, representatives of the President, Salva Kiir, and Riek Machar, the former Vice-President accused of staging a coup, signed a ceasefire. Both sides have since accused the other of breaching the agreement, however.

In his BBC interview, Archbishop Welby said that he was both "worried" and "hopeful" for the future of South Sudan: "My experience . . . is that the impact of conflict on a society is devastating, long-lasting, and difficult to deal with. Any country like the South Sudan that had been in nearly half a century of conflict is going to have major issues to deal with." There must be no impunity for perpet_rators of crimes, he said, "but it must not look like external forces enforcing a certain something on the South Sudan."

This month, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called on the leaders of the Great Lakes Region to stop "turning a blind eye" to "people on their territory who are suspected of committing very serious crimes". She noted that Rwanda is currently hosting senior leaders of M23, the rebel group alleged to be among the worst perpetrators of human rights violations in the DRC. Conversely, the DRC was sheltering people suspected of participation in the Rwanda genocide.

Earlier this month, the US State Department expressed "deep concern" about comments made by the Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, after the murder of one of his opponents, Patrick Karegeya. "No one will betray Rwanda and get away with it. Regardless of who you are, there will be consequences," Mr Kagame said.

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