South Sudan: UK aid agencies warn that peace will only hold if the voices of all South Sudanese are heard
UK aid agency CAFOD has joined other British NGOs working with vulnerable communities affected by the conflict in South Sudan, in welcoming the signing of the latest peace agreement, but warns that any sustainable peace in the country needs to include the critical role of civil society.
In their joint statement released to mark International Day of Peace, it says:
"While it is vital to secure an agreement to end armed conflict, there needs to be political will to engage positively in the support of peace. Securing long-term peace in South Sudan requires more than a formal agreement. Ultimately any signed agreement can only deliver lasting peace if it is supported and connected with long-term transformational changes at the community level, which address grievances fuelling conflict and the causes of disaffection and disenfranchisement."
Fergus Conmee, CAFOD's head of Africa programmes said:
"As the country moves into this new chapter in its history, the international community must support a comprehensive approach to lasting peace including economic development, justice, social cohesion and security, making sure that the voices of ordinary South Sudanese are heard at the national, regional and international level."
The signing of the most recent peace agreement last week in Addis Ababa, between South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and the main opposition leader, Riek Machar, offers hope that there is an end in sight to the five-year conflict that has engulfed the country.
The conflict has led to more than 4.3 million people forced from their homes, and 7 million people in need of daily humanitarian assistance.
The joint statement highlights that 'despite the devastating violence, local-level peacebuilding takes place every day, bridging divisions, bringing communities and individuals together and restoring relationships.'
The role of churches in the country has been at the helm of driving local peace initiatives. CAFOD's local Church partner Bishop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro, of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio, who is President of the Sudan and South Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference said:
"Churches represent perhaps the only 'institutions' that transcends ethnic and regional differences, so as Church, despite the challenges of security and heated tensions, we are able to work with different ethnic groups on reconciliation and peacebuilding in our dioceses and parishes.
"We appeal to the entire population to embrace peaceful means of resolving conflicts. Without reconciliation and forgiveness, our wounds will remain open."
For media enquiries or for further information please contact Nana Anto-Awuakye +44(0)207 095 5456, +44(0)799 477 541. CAFOD out-of-hours media line: +44 (0)7919 301 429
Note to Editors:
The full version of the joint NGO statement can be found here
The statement has been signed by the following UK aid agencies: CAFOD, Christian Aid, Conciliation Resources, MercyCorps, Oxfam, SaferWorld, and Tearfund
South Sudan gained independence in July 2011. Civil war broke out in December 2013.
CAFOD is the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development. It works with communities across Africa, Asia Middle East and Latin America to fight poverty and injustice. The agency works with people in need regardless of race, gender, religion or nationality.
From 1 April 2015, CAFOD and Trócaire started working together in South Sudan, as CAFOD and Trócaire in Partnership. CAFOD and Trócaire both have a long history of working in the country through Church and non-Church partners who support vulnerable people in communities, providing food, water and sanitation and supporting communities to earn a living through better farming methods.
Photo attached - credit: 'CAFOD'