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Light and Hope For Sudan

Posted on: September 27, 1996 4:23 PM
Related Categories: Sudan

A Christian initiative for an end to the war in the Sudan

Rev Dr Richard Rodgers Secretary of Light and Hope for Sudan is Keeping a 40 day vigil on bread and water outside the Foreign Office in London from Thursday 26th September to 5th November requesting a British government initiative to settle the 40 years of misery and war in the Sudan.

Dr Rodgers has been working for nearly three years full-time unpaid to try to facilitate an ending to this war on terms which can be looked back on, by all parties, as being fair. The work has involved extensive visits to members and leaders of the various sides to the war and to others in international political life whose influence may help to promote a settlement. He has visited Khartoum (five times), Nairobi (including some travel within southern Sudan) and has visited Washington, Ottawa, Strasbourg and Brussels as well as keeping in touch with British MPs. He has kept closely in touch with the Foreign Office over these years although he has never been able to secure an appointment at Ministerial level.

Dr Rodgers' role is not that of a mediator but of one who seeks to create a climate of serious dialogue in which the parties to the conflict will want to take each others grievances seriously and then to use the services of a mediator of which several are available. Otherwise you can have peace talks for ever and get nowhere.

The British government is involved to some extent in efforts towards peace in the Sudan and has been involved in the emergency relief effort. BUT Light and Hope for Sudan considers the level of British involvement to be insufficient to encourage a peace settlement and that the situation would benefit from fair analysis at first hand by staff on the ground and from pro-active diplomacy such as that of which the British Diplomatic Service is capable, if sufficiently resourced and mandated. Dr Rodgers has a high regard for the diplomats involved but thinks the level of staffing is insufficient to enable a pro-active approach to the problem.

A special British initiative is needed. A senior person should be appointed by the British Government who will get to know the main players in this war and other parties and then promote real dialogue amongst those who are embroiled in the conflict.

Such a person, once appointed would need to have the continuing close attention and commitment of the British government at a senior level and he or she would need sufficient funding to be able to travel to the remote places where (in some cases) such people are to be found and to be able to communicate effectively. Staffing back-up-up would be needed.

Dr Rodgers will be in Whitehall outside the Foreign Office from 7am to 9pm everyday until 5th November except for some periods on Saturday's when he will be with his wife and children. He can receive correspondence at 22 Great College Street, London SW1P 3QA. Tel until 26th Sept: 0121 476 0789

From 7am to 9pm he will be available on Mobile number 0956 254 392

Dr Rodgers (49) is a medical doctor with a background in Orthopaedic Surgery and Trauma Care and is ordained in the Birmingham Diocese of the Church of England with a home base at St Martin's in the Bull Ring. In 1986 he kept a 46 day Lenten Vigil for the release of Irina Ratushinskaya the Christian Poetess who was detained in a Soviet Labour Camp and who was released shortly afterwards at the time of the Reagan/Gorbachev Summit in Reykjavik and who now lives and writes in England.