Struggling in Sudan and South Sudan
The newest country in Africa, South Sudan, came into being on July 9, 2011. This new country is the 4th poorest in the world. There is no infrastructure –paved roads are almost non-existent; years of civil war destroyed many buildings in towns and cities; there are no schools, no public utilities, and no sanitation. Even as people were celebrating their independence from the Khartoum government, the Khartoum government was waging war on the peoples of the disputed border areas of South Kordofan state, which includes the Nuba Mts. and the Abyei area (read this as the oil-producing area.) What is happening sounds like genocide. In north Sudan, black Southern Sudanese Christians are being persecuted, being fired from their jobs, being denied health care, as well as education. In fact, if you are not an Arab Muslim in the north, you will encounter persecution. Sharia Law is being strengthened in Khartoum and in all of the northern states.
Presbyterian Women has made Sudan the mission focus for the triennium 2009-2012. As a part of this, women from warring tribes in the south were brought together for the first time last year for conversations around peacemaking. These gatherings have been very effective. The Khartoum government has been stirring up intertribal conflict as a means of forcing people to leave the oil rich areas of Sudan.
The Sudan Action Advocacy Forum (headed by Bill Andress of Trinity Presbytery) which works with the Persecution Project (Bradford Phillips, President) reported on a meeting with members of congress earlier in August. US congressman Chris Smith, chair of the house con- germinal panel on African issues and international human rights, convened the emergency hearing of three witnesses who re- counted claims of “ethnic cleansing, murders, rapes” and a burgeoning humanitarian crisis in the area. Testimonies were received from Andudu Adam Elnail, a bishop at the Anglican Diocese of Kadugli in South Kordofan; Bradford Phillips, President of Persecution Project; and Luka Biong Deng a member of South Sudan’s ruling SPLM party. All three witnesses spoke of wide-ranging atrocities committed by Sudan’s army against the Nuba population, and called on the US Administration to rally international efforts to stem the crisis. Bishop Andudu said his own Anglican cathedral, offices and home in South Kordofan’s state capital of Kadugli were ransacked and looted. He also said a member of his congregation reported seeing mass graves less than a mile away. He called on the US and other members of the international community to begin to “translate moral outrage into effective action” to save lives. (Sudan Tribune, 08/04/ 2011)
Sylvia Carlson, member, Sudan Mission Network, Presbyterian Church, USA