Representatives of the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) engaged in a series of meetings last week in New York, accompanied by the World Council of Churches (WCC) to inform UN member states and agencies about the current crisis and to advocate for a pathway towards peace.
The SSCC has been playing a significant role as a trusted broker for peace in the country, a convener and a leader of reconciliation processes.
On 26 April, the delegation had meetings with Adama Dieng, the UN secretary-general's special adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, Ambassador Nikki Haley, and the US Mission, the UN General Secretariat, Office for Children and Armed Conflict, and Mission of South Sudan.
In the conversations in New York, SSCC representatives shared ways in which they are supporting the capacity building of local church and ecumenical organizations to sustain long-lasting processes to lead reconciliation and raise awareness of trauma, and facilitate healing and forgiveness.
Later the same day, a panel co-sponsored by the WCC and Fordham University in New York offered the possibility for the delegation to share more about the reality in their home country.
Bishop Dr Isaiah Majok Dau, a trustee of the SSCC, stressed that “we have to look at who the war is benefiting. Arms dealers are profiting, and other nations are pursuing their interests. As nations form their foreign policy regarding South Sudan, they should create financial disincentives to these interests”.
The panel was moderated by Nyamal Tutdeal, who was 6 years old when she, her mother and siblings fled the war in Sudan and became refugees in the United States. Today she is a recent graduate of Arcadia University with a master’s degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution and a concentration in NGO management.
On 27 April, the WCC co-hosted a luncheon with Crisis Action for the ecumenical colleagues and NGOs working on supporting peace-building in South Sudan. The South Sudan delegation debriefed the participants on the content of their meetings in Washington DC and at the UN in New York.
Members of the SSCC delegation shared that in the meetings held in New York with the UN Department of Peace Keeping Operations, the missions of member states, and agencies, the importance of the church in playing a significant role in peace and reconciliation processes in South Sudan was constantly stressed.
Father James Latansio, head of the delegation and general secretary of the SSCC urged the nations to continue their humanitarian support for the people of South Sudan and to have patience with the peace process.