The Episcopal Church of the Sudan plays a central role in peace negotiations
After almost 5 months of conflict, during which an estimated 10,000 have died and more than 1 million displaced, a peace agreement between the government and rebels was signed in Addis Ababa on 9th May.
At AID, we give thanks for this encouraging news and pray that it will lead to real change, not only for ordinary people but also for reconciliation between the warring factions.
In particular, we praise God that local churches have played such a key role in bringing the two sides together. All AID’s projects work in partnership with churches within local communities – but the church also has a national voice; churches, most notably the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, have been involved in reconciliation and mediation for decades in South Sudan. As the peace agreement was signed, Anglican Archbishop Dr Deng Bul Yak prayed with President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar.
Staff from the UK office of Anglican International Development visited South Sudan last month, seeing at first hand that not only our projects still flourishing but also that new ones are starting. The north-east of the country has been badly affected by the recent conflict but the southern part of the country, around Juba and Yei, is enjoying some stability after tense days earlier this year. Threats to some still remain; many Nuer in particular are under UN protection in camps. However, there are encouraging signs that life could be returning to normality.
At the same time, and as reported recently by the BBC, there are real fears of a famine in large areas of the country as the 6-month long rainy season enters its 2nd month. Without the ability to grow their own food, many local communities depend on relief provided by aid agencies and rains make roads impassable. The International Rescue Committee estimates that 7 million people (around 70% of the population) may face starvation as a result.
Whilst in the short term, humanitarian aid is desperately needed by families in rural areas to prevent real hardship, Anglican International Development believes that these crises will only become a thing of the past when communities have the skills and resources to develop themselves. The truth is that so many go hungry in a country that could feed itself many times over, but which now imports 80% of its food. That’s why we are working closely with churches to bring real change and hope for the future to the people of South Sudan.