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World News

Churches, Christian charities make joint call for peace in South Sudan

by Tola Mbakwe

A number of Churches and Christian organisations have marked United Nation's International Day of Peace, by adding their name to a statement that draws attention to the urgent need for peace in South Sudan.

The statement, which has been produced by a range of churches and agencies affiliated to the Ecumenical Network on South Sudan (ENSS), also draws attention to the inclusion of local peacebuilders so that all the voices of South Sudanese people may feel engaged in the process.

Tearfund, World Vision, Christian Aid, CAFOD, Church of Scotland and the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) are among those who have signed it. 

It calls upon Christian groups to stand with the world's newest nation and points out that the conflict has led to a "dire humanitarian situation" with 7.5 million people requiring humanitarian assistance and more than 2.26 million having been forced to flee the country. 

The statement reads: "Despite some progress in bringing peace to the country, we are gravely concerned about the continuation of violence in various areas of the country and the availability of arms which continues to fuel violence in the country.

"We call upon all in South Sudan to respect the dignity of human life as we call for increased preventative, investigative and just efforts to end these devastating acts of violence.

"We call for adequate, multi-year and flexible humanitarian funding, expedited especially to frontline organisations.

"We also urge the Government of South Sudan and other parties to ensure full, unrestricted and unhindered humanitarian access to all regions of the country."

The theme for the International Day of Peace 2020 is "Shaping Peace Together."

South Sudan is also ranked third in terms of countries most vulnerable to the impact of Covid-19.

Highlighting the reasons for PCI's support, Rev Dr Liz Hughes, convener of denomination's Council for Global Mission said, "Our hearts are heavy for the people of South Sudan and for those who are endeavouring to build peace at every level of society. This includes the leaders and members of our partner Presbyterian Church. On this International Day of Peace, we once again reiterate our commitment to join with them in prayerful solidarity." 

In 2013, PCI endorsed an appeal to leaders in South Sudan to lay down their weapons and cooperate in seeking peace.

Meanwhile, the Church of Scotland's work to support South Sudan stems from when former Moderator of the General Assembly, Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, visited the country in 2015.

Since then representatives have worked hard to affect lasting change and have held multiple peace and reconciliation training sessions for South Sudan church leaders in Scotland, in Kenya and in South Sudan with further plans for work in the future.

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