Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Sudan Diary -- Part 1

As chair of the International Committee for Justice and Peace of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Howard Hubbard recently traveled to Sudan and Nigeria. The first installment of his four-part diary of the trip appeared in this week’s edition of The Evangelist, our diocesan newspaper. It is available here.

Some excerpts:

In this most recent civil war (1983-2005), two million people from Sudan were killed and more than four million displaced, mostly moving from the South to the North.

In 2005, the United Nations, the African Union, the United States, Norway and Great Britain helped broker a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). This resulted in a cessation of armed conflict, an interim constitution with a power-sharing arrangement known as the Government of National Unity (GNU) in Khartoum, composed of the now defunct Northern Government of Sudan (GOS) and the semi-autonomous government of Southern Sudan (GoSS).

The ruling regime in the North, the National Congress Party (NCP) is a mixture of military elite and the Islamists Party that came to power in a 1989 coup. The South is governed by the Southern Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM).

Part of the CPA’s stipulation is that on Jan. 9, 2011, there will be a referendum wherein the South will determine whether it will secede from the North or remain in unity with the North.

There will also be a determination about the affiliation of three transitional areas along the North-South border: the oil-rich Abyei, the Southern Kordofan/ Nuba Mountain State and the Southern Blue Nile.

Abyei will have a referendum in 2011 to determine its own affiliation, while the other two areas will remain with the North but will be granted more political influence through local consultations.

. . . . . . . . . .

On Wednesday morning, we met with Cardinal Gabriel Tubier Wako at his residence. He has served as the archbishop of Khartoum since 1981 and was elevated to the College of Cardinals in 2003.

Although ailing recently, the cardinal has been instrumental in seeking the rights of Christians and other minorities in Northern Sudan. He is deeply concerned about what will happen to Christians in his archdiocese and in the North of Sudan if there is a separation between the North and the South.

The cardinal fears that if there is not strong action on the part of the international community and the guarantors of the CPA, Christians and other minorities in the North may be subject to Sharia (Islamic Law) and became further marginalized than they already are.

Further, if Christians who were displaced to the North during the Civil War should now to be returned to the South, there is the fear of the loss of education, jobs and even persecution without strong assistance from the international community.

. . . . . . . . . .

The USAID staff recognizes the need to assist the government in the South to develop its capacity for providing basic services to its people. They are very interested in hearing from Church officials the attitudes and needs of the people at the grassroots level, since the churches are the most respected institutions in the South, having stayed with their flock during the atrocities of the civil war.

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