The bishops of Sudan have called for continuing international pressure on the Government of Sudan and other armed groups to bring an end to violence in Darfur.
At the launch of the Art of Reconciliation Exhibition today, featuring artwork from the Diocese of Malakal, the first art show since the civil war, Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Sudan Daniel Deng Bul Yak gave a statement to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams outlining the bishops’ concerns.
While the bishops were greatly encouraged by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed by the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement three years ago, they said that “we remain deeply concerned that the conflict in Darfur, in Western Sudan, continues unabated, and at the localised conflict in several places which threatens stability and the sustainability of peace.”
Dr Williams in receiving the statement said that it was apparent that the chances of peace in Darfur were negligible “as long as there is instability, suffering and violence in Southern Sudan.”
“We want to see some urgent action here. We also want to see proper collaboration between the Khartoum government, the African Union and the UN peacemaking projects and policies at the moment,” he said.
The Sudanese bishops have called for a full implementation of the CPA, with a referendum to be held in 2011 on the future political status of Southern Sudan as being “of key significance” in its implementation.
Violations of the CPA include the destruction of the town of Abyei, in the oil-rich area on the border between Northern and Southern Sudan in May this year, which displaced over 90,000 people.
The bishops have also called for unity in the church in the North and South, “whatever the political boundaries”.
Archbishop Rowan Williams said that the Anglican Communion owed a debt of thanks to the Episcopal Church in Sudan.
“We have benefited deeply from your witness, you courage and your prayerfulness,” he said. “We can best repay that debt by working in solidarity for what most deeply matters to you and to your country.”
“To be here at this exhibition this afternoon is a great privilege where we see one of the things that always make a difference in these situations, that is, art which expresses human dignity and human hope. And …as all of these images tell us, people need to be able to imagine by God’s grace that things can be different. The church is there to keep people imagining that things can be different. And in know that in your prayer and your witness that’s what you do and that’s what we want to do with you and alongside you.”