We recall the emergence of Southern Sudan as an independent state in July 2011. The Anglican Church played a signiﬁcant role along with other churches in the forming and developing the new nation, the ﬁrst in history to escape from Muslim domination.
Since December 2013, Southern Sudan’s viability has been gravely threatened by an internal civil war. The rebel forces are led by the former vice-president, Riek Machir, who established himself in the north east of South Sudan where many of the country’s oil fields, the source of its income, are situated.
Supporting small scale business
Anglican International Development, based in Newcastle, had partnered the Episcopal Church of Sudan in developing Manna Microfinance, a programme to enable the South Sudanese to develop their own family economies through small scale business activities. It was also allocated facilities in Bor in the north east to develop a medical training programme in conjunction with the International Christian Dental and Medical Association. However, Bor was overrun by rebel forces and the programme has been started in Mengo Hospital in Kampala, Uganda, training 50 participants to work as medical officers in South Sudan.
Following independence, many such international groups stretched out helping hands to partners in South Sudan. But the civil war disrupted these activities. Leaders of the major Protestant denominations concluded that such was the threat to the survival of the country itself that concerted action was needed against the major threats.
A cry for help
They issued Cry from South Sudan in August 2014 following a consultation in London and established a United Christian Emergency Committee for South Sudan.
The ﬁrst threat they see is that the world will forget them, overwhelmed as it is with the development of Islamic State. However, their own parlous situation is of a piece with the development of IS. South Sudan is a front-line state facing the advance of Islam in Africa. They border on Sudan, a Muslim nation, which in turns borders on Egypt. Sudan has no interest in the survival of South Sudan and will therefore be actively involved in fanning the flames of the civil war.
Following the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Gadaffi in Libya, Islamist fighters dispersed south into western and eastern Africa.
Their effects have been felt in Chad and in the separatism in Kenya. Some observers claim that the bombing of Islamic State will only disperse the fighters in a similar way, and South Sudan is an obvious attraction for their destabilising activities.
second The threat is a creeping famine caused by the disruption of the civil war. This is likely to hit hard early in the new year.
The authors of Cry… continue: ‘Our future is being undermined as our children are being devastated. Over 7% die at birth. Few attend school. Those schools that do function have to meet under trees. Those people that do get educated have no jobs. This is a time bomb for vulnerability to radicalisation by extremist groups.
‘God calls the church to bring peace and stability to South Sudan. However, we acknowledge that we have not always been faithful to this calling. We as church leaders now want to respond unitedly. We are committed to act together as one body and have established the United Christian Emergency Committee for South Sudan. We will be acting trans-denominationally. We ask for your support in the following areas:
• To help us build a strong and healthy nation for the future
• To support our hands in prayer for God’s deliverance
• To continue your interest and concern for the long term. Millions have died in conflict in our nation and millions have been displaced. We are committed to ensuring a long-lasting peace.
• To keep our nation and its hopes and needs before your governments and for other institutions to bring their pressure to bear
• To assist us as you can in the following strategic projects:
Human Rights; Education; Relationship with Cultures; Health; Relief; Discipleship /Theological Training; Political / Peace-making; Leadership / Ethics; Publishing; Economic Development; Legal Systems; Prayer Committee/Intercession
Where to begin
In our emergency situation we will begin with the following:
1. Provide food, medical relief and shelter. As crops have failed, we are now experiencing a famine which could become unmanageable.
2. A process of political reconciliation with specialist advisers. Without peace there can be no stable future for our country
3. Establish teachers’ training programmes ensuring a supply of teachers to encourage the government to build many schools. Education of the young is key to the future of South Sudan.
4. Establish a leaders’ ‘staff college’ with courses for politicians, bishops and senior clergy, businessmen, people in the military and law enforcement and other leaders in civil society. We will provide responsible leaders for the nation.
The committee, based in Juba, South Sudan can be contacted through the Revd John Brand, Friends of South Sudan, firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter through @fossuk