The Episcopal Church of Sudan
Archbishop Deng lobbies HM Government to help end LRA crisis
The Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, the Most Rev’d Dr. Daniel Deng Bul Yak, has this week sent a petition, on behalf of his Church, the Church of Uganda and the Anglican Church in north eastern DR Congo, to the Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
In the letter, the Anglican Church leaders of the region affected since Christmas by repeated attacks by the self-styled Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) – Southern Sudan, northern Uganda and north eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – appealed to the British Government for assistance.
The request was specifically two-fold: firstly to put diplomatic pressure on the LRA leaders, leaders in Sudan, Uganda and Congo, and leaders of the UN peacekeeping missions in Sudan and Congo to do more to bring an end to the brutal attacks on unarmed civilians by the LRA, which have seen many Congolese and Sudanese towns swamped with refugees and displaced people since December. Secondly, the prelates pleaded for more international assistance for the relief effort in supporting these displaced people – most of whom are now dependent on their and other churches.
The letter was signed by Archbishop Deng, Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, leader of the Church of Uganda and Bishop George Ande of Aru in north east DRC. It follows closely on the heels of a similar statement made by all the Primates of the Anglican Communion at Alexandria following the Primates Meeting there in the first week of February 2009, itself following repeated reports from Anglican bishops of the affected region of the brutality, frequency and disruption of the LRA’s attacks, which have included torture of women and children; child abductions; executions by machete amputation, mutilation and decapitation; burnings in churches during services and in houses, and other unspeakable crimes.
These have resulted in new internal and cross-border displacement throughout the region, affecting more than 50,000 people. Whole communities have been attacked in the Sudanese dioceses of Ezo, Yambio, Ibba, Maridi, Mundri and Lui in Western Equatoria, Southern Sudan. Over 10,000 people have been displaced from their villages in Maridi alone. Communities in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo including Faradje, Durba, Aba and Sambia have also been seriously affected with over 50,000 displaced, many as refugees over the Sudanese and Ugandan borders, in particular to the above-mentioned centres.
Archbishop Deng commented that though LRA attacks were the most pressing security issue in Southern Sudan at present, other issues of local violence within Sudan are still ongoing and must be tackled within the strategic framework of the Sudanese Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the North and the South, which has been strained of late with the destruction of Abyei in 2008 and worries over the indictment of President Omar Al-Bashir and the upcoming elections in 2009.
The Sudanese Primate challenged the FCO and DfID to assist in finding a “whole Sudan” solution to the country’s current conflicts – complementing diplomatic pressure on Khartoum with a development programme designed to demonstrate maximum “peace dividend” to the peoples of Southern Sudan.
Only when these two approaches are put together will the LRA and other crises be overcome – this is the message of the Primates and this latest petition in particular. Archbishop Deng returned to the Sudan on Saturday 28th February following a week in the UK during which he attended a two-day workshop on the work of the Church in Sudanese development and spent three days in the Diocese of Salisbury, the Episcopal Church of the Sudan’s longest standing overseas partner.
Nicholas Ramsden, Oxford, 01/03/09