The Archbishop of Canterbury has appealed for “urgent humanitarian assistance” for victims affected by ethnic violence in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States, as well as the conflict in Darfur.
About 120,000 refugees have fled to South Sudan and are now in camps that lack basic infrastructure, according to international humanitarian agencies.
“Peace is the only option which can allow the flourishing of South Sudan and its neighbour Sudan,” said Archbishop Rowan Williams in a statement issued on the eve of the first anniversary of the independence of South Sudan. “The new nation was created with the support of both South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan, and the well-being of both countries depends on their mutual co-operation.”
Archbishop Williams also endorsed a joint appeal issued by the Anglican and Roman Catholic archbishops of Juba calling for an immediate cessation of violence.
“Relations between the governments of Sudan and South Sudan have deteriorated to unacceptable levels,” said a statement issued by Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, primate of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, and Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro, Catholic Metropolitan Archbishop of Juba. “We reject war as an option to resolve disputes and call upon all parties to implement a meaningful cease-fire and withdrawal of forces from the border region. ”
Archbishop Williams agreed that “the current impasse is damaging” to both Sudan and South Sudan. “I welcome the vision which the Sudanese Church has set before us of ‘two nations at peace with each other, co-operating to make best use of their God-given resources, promoting free interaction between their citizens, living side by side in solidarity and mutual respect,'” he said.
The symbolic head of the Anglican Communion also urged “respect for freedom and worship” for all the Sudanese people, and said he was concerned at the demolition “without warning” of St. John’s Church in Hai Baraka, Khartoum, Sudan, by government authorities on June 18.
“With the World Council of Churches and All Africa Conference of Churches, I call on the Government of the Republic of Sudan to investigate this and other recent incidents and to ensure religious freedom and due protection for all its people,” he said.
Archbishops Deng Bul and Lukudu Loro said that while South Sudan has seen “many good developments” during its first year as an independent nation, some problems have also emerged. They include “ethnic discontent” as well as corruption among government officials and some levels of society.
“We reiterate the dream expressed by the bishops of our two churches when they met in Yei in May 2012: a dream of two nations which are democratic and free, where people of all religions, all ethnic groups, all cultures and all languages enjoy equal human rights based on citizenship,” their statement said.