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Sudan: peace deal welcomed but fear remains

Missionaries and church organisations have welcome Sunday's peace agreement between the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement with reservations. The peace deal ends more than two decades of conflict which cost the lives of more than two million people.

However, as Christian Aid points out, the deal does not take into account the separate clash in the western province of Darfur, which still poses a great threat to stability. And the agency says the country will need much support to recover from the devastation caused by generations of civil war.

Catholic Independent News reports that a meeting of donor countries is scheduled to meet in Oslo, Norway on 15 January. Christian Aid says it is imperative that donors commit the funds needed to assist the return and rehabilitation of more than 14 million refugees and displaced persons. It says support is also needed for the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of soldiers and militias.

A spokesman said: "The next six months are crucial. For peace to be restored the rule of law must be re-established, there must be greater accountability, and an accountable and civilian government must be elected.

"The peace deal protocols provide for the devolution of power from central government. Local and traditional systems of conflict resolution and governance must be allowed to function again.

"The peace agreement also provides for a large number of peacekeeping troops. Given the huge delays experienced in putting into place a much smaller force in Darfur, it is imperative that lessons are learnt and all sides commit to a rapid and comprehensive deployment.

"Long-term peace will only be achieved if the ordinary women, men and children of Sudan experience real change in their lives. All citizens and organisations must be given the opportunity to participate in the future of their country.

Acuil Malith Bongul, the representative of Christian Aid partner Bahr El Ghazal Youth Development Agency, said: "Peace is about more than a piece of paper it is about a process which must involve civil society organizations and communities.'

Comboni Father Renato Sesana Kizito, who has been working on behalf of the Nuba people for many years, welcomed the agreement but said: "Now the international community must not abandon the country, because I do not believe that the two sides are seriously motivated for peace, or that they have the strength to achieve it after over 20 years of war."

He said: "Sudan is in such a state of disintegration and is so used to violence that even honest internal forces will not be able to restore peace on their own."

Sudan: peace deal welcomed but fear remains (Independent Catholic News 11/1/05)

Caritas Australia's Sudan Crisis Appeal
Christian Aid
Sudanese People's Liberation Movement

Refugees returning to war-torn South Sudan (CathNews 11/10/04)
Caritas aid worker shot in Darfur (CathNews 2/9/04)
US bishop says 'no question' Darfur violence is ethnic cleansing (CathNews 18/8/04)
Catholic Mission continues its work in Sudan (CathNews 16/8/04)
Sudanese Bishops warn violence set to escalate (CathNews 26/8/04)
Sudan bishop urges pressure on unreliable government (CathNews 29/7/04)
Papal envoy demands action on Darfur (CathNews 27/7/04)
Pope worries about children pressured to "become soldiers" (CathNews 26/7/04)
Pope appeals for end to Sudan abuses (CathNews 23/7/04)
Sudan called 'world's worst humanitarian disaster' (CathNews 9/7/04)
US Catholic relief official says Sudan faces 'catastrophic loss of life' without aid (CathNews 8/7/04)
Sudanese priest tortured by security forces (CathNews 27/5/04)

In Sudan, It's Now Wait and See (Zenit 10/1/05)
Holy See Has Full Diplomatic Ties With 174 Countries (Zenit 10/1/05)

12 Jan 2005