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In South Sudan war tires people, but churches keep trying to forge peace

In South Sudan war tires people, but churches keep trying to forge peace

Church leaders of South Sudan during the meeting in Lusaka, Zambia. Photo: SSCC

08 December 2017

The South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) has worked unstintingly since 2014 crisscrossing the land to try to bring about peace in their country, the world’s newest, that is being torn apart by civil conflict.

After a meeting they held in the Zambian capital Lusaka in August the SSCC said, “Death, displacement, hunger and impoverishment have brought our people to their knees, and they are deeply tired of this unbearable situation.”

The United States, the biggest aid provider to South Sudan, is tiring of its support and at the United Nations Security Council on 28 November it threatened to take unspecified measures against the government unless it moves to end the nearly four-year war and stop harassing UN peacekeepers and aid workers.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley called on President Salva Kiir to take action, telling the Security Council that "words are no longer sufficient," AFP news agency reported.

The following day the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Alain Noudéhou, strongly condemned the attack that took place the day before in Duk Payuel village, Duk County, which resulted in at least 45 people killed, including six people working with two NGOs. Reports indicated that another 19 people were injured, including three aid workers.

South Sudan descended into civil war in December 2013 when Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup only two years after the nation gained independence from its northern neighbor, Sudan.

But the SSCC, a truly ecumenical body that includes, traditional Protestants, Roman Catholics, Evangelicals, Pentecostals and Orthodox, does not tire in its efforts to get the parties to hammer out a peace as it traverses the nation.

Churches engage at ever level

It has engaged military and civilian leaders at national, state and local levels as well including women and young people.

“The SSCC and its partners will meet to facilitate consultative conferences in Gumuruk County in Boma State from 06-09 December and more than 200 participants are expected,” said Mata Moses Kwiayansuk of the SSCC Communications Office.

Participants at that meeting will include constituency leaders from the national and state government, traditional leaders including chiefs and elders and including women and youth representatives.

Earlier from 13-16 November on in Pibor, also in Boma State the SSCC facilitated a consultative conference on peace that ended with a declaration of acceptance for dialogue entitled Pibor Peace dialogue. The SSCC, and its peace partners: Finn Church Aid, Norwegian Church Aid, UNMISS (United Nations Mission in South Sudan) and Oxfam.

At that meeting more than 500 participants turned for the dialogue comprising of national members of parliament, state executives and state MPs, civil servants, chiefs, women and youth.

Peace declaration

The declaration was signed by four key leaders of the Murle people:  Gen. David Yauyau, the national deputy minister of labour, human resources and public service; Gen. Kennedy, a member of the Council of State; Gen. Baba Midan, a member of the South Sudan National Dialogue; and Sultan. Ismail Konyi, governor of Boma State; and the Counties Commissioners of Boma State.

Also present were SSCC representatives along with technical staff.

The declaration highlighted key questions and possible solutions for a way forward and committed to a peaceful process of dialogue, stressing the need for a process of dialogue and peace accompanied by South Sudan Council of Churches.

It acknowledged the need for urgent dialogue between various communities and within the State, to prevent violence and build stability.

In a September report at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Secretary General noted that UN officials had told South Sudan government members of specific cases of individuals cooperating with the UNMISS and with other UN bodies including cases in which individuals were forced to leave South Sudan due to intimidation and threats.

WCC member churches in South Sudan