South Sudan is one of the countries most vulnerable to the negative impacts of the corona crisis, a situation compounded by years of fighting.
That is why a number of Christain-based organizations working for peace in the country are publishing a statement today, the International Day of Peace, calling on the country's leaders to "Keep your commitment to peace, with full force."
Small steps are being taken to bring peace to South Sudan. But continued violence in parts of the country and the availability of weapons are a cause for concern. Moreover, sexual and gender-based violence, including the kidnapping of women and children, is still rife in South Sudan. The conflict has created a dire humanitarian situation where 7.5 million people are in need of humanitarian aid. More than 2.26 million people have been forced to flee the country and 1.6 million remain internally displaced.
Shaping Peace Together
This year's theme for the International Day of Peace is 'Shaping peace together'. This theme is certainly relevant for peace in South Sudan. Implementation of the revised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan must be a top priority for all parties to the conflict. All other competing interests must be set aside.
Churches have a major role
Despite the devastating conflict in South Sudan, there are many organizations working on peacebuilding. This is invaluable in helping to shape peace at the local level together. Local peace activists, as well as churches, are committed to helping faith-based organizations, women's groups, community leaders and NGOs. As a member of the Ecumenical Network South Sudan (ENSS), PAX underscores the role of the churches in peacebuilding and in bringing communities together in South Sudan. The churches provide psychosocial support to victims of violence and support reconciliation processes that address historical grievances to shape a peaceful future together. The international community must continue to support this work.
Women, peace and security
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. It is time to re-emphasize the importance of involving women in peacebuilding in South Sudan. It remains crucial that the positive contribution of women to peace is recognized, supported and celebrated.