[World Council of Churches] As the tragic situation of conflict in South Sudan moves into its 18th month, the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) continue calling for an end to the senseless conflict. Human rights are being abused at every level, both on the battlefield and in peaceful areas. People are being killed, raped and tortured. The humanitarian situation is deteriorating. South Sudan, a rich and fertile land, should be the bread basket of Africa yet instead is relying on foreign aid.
In a statement issued in Juba on 26 May, the South Sudan Council of Churches spoke of the deteriorating situation in South Sudan: “We challenge the military and political leaders of all sides, most of whom call themselves Christians: why are you not listening to the voice of your church leaders, who echo the voice of the ordinary citizens of South Sudan?”
The statement also said: “Children are being recruited into armed groups. Looting is endemic. People are being arrested for no reason. Security organs appear to be acting as if they are above the law. The space for citizens and civil society to speak out appears to be narrowing.”
Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, commented on the statement: “The church leaders are playing a significant role to bring peace to South Sudan. The churches are representing the people and the civil society and they speak the truth and the true will of all the people of a real and just peace for South Sudan"
Tveit added: “Together as the South Sudan Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches, we will convey the message we have as one worldwide fellowship of churches: Stop the war!”
The WCC has accompanied the churches in South Sudan for more than 40 years. In April this year, the WCC in collaboration with the South Sudan Council of Churches convened twenty church leaders and representatives from South Sudan and Ethiopia, along with related agencies, in Addis Ababa to reflect on the tragic situation of conflict in South Sudan, the recent collapse of peace talks among the parties to the conflict, and fresh ways forward.
Tveit underlined: “We have to build South Sudan by peaceful and political means.”
The church leaders concluded their statement: “We will take more proactive steps to try to achieve peace and reconciliation for the people of South Sudan. Any long term solution to the conflict must take account of the needs of the ordinary people, not the agenda of the political and military elite.”
Read the full text of the statement and more information on the WCC website.