Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sudanese Bishop Shares Picture of Little Progress

Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Adwok of Khartoum, Sudan (Photo: ACN)

ACN News, Tuesday, 7th April 2009 – SUDAN

No end to the suffering
Bishop’s bleak assessment of progress since 2005 peace agreement
• Government in Khartoum still insists on Islamisation
• South Sudan’s insecurity prevents return of displaced people

By John Pontifex

A BISHOP in Sudan has given a damning indictment of progress for Christians more than four years on from an historic peace agreement which promised the country a fresh start after decades of war. In a message underlining the need to step-up help for displaced Christians in the north of the country, Bishop Daniel Adwok Kur stated that the national government’s treatment of non-Muslims remains unchanged. The Auxiliary Bishop of Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, went on to state that, with the continuing outbreak of conflict in many parts of the south, initiatives to move the refugees back to the south of the country have so far been sporadic.

'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.' -- Matthew 25

In his interview with the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Adwok said that, despite conciliatory gestures, the government in Khartoum remained wedded to the spread of Islam and the promotion of one religious and cultural identity. His comments represent a damning indictment of progress since January 2005 when the Khartoum government and southern-based rebels the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) put a formal end to 20 years of civil war by signing the landmark Comprehensive Peace Agreement. And with only two years remaining until the all-important referendum on possible independence for the south, as agreed in the CPA, the bishop’s bleak assessment bodes ill for the resolution of political issues left undecided in the 2005 deal – not least land disputes in areas where mineral resources have been discovered.

For Bishop Adwok, who is based in Kosti, 200 miles (320km) south of Khartoum, the key issue is that the Khartoum Government has not honoured its commitment to address the grievances of non-Muslims in Khartoum. A commission ‘for the rights of non-Muslims’ was envisaged by the CPA but as yet has not been established. The bishop said: “The government has always focused on the Islamisation process. I do not see any change on the part of the authorities.”

The bishop highlighted his frustration at efforts to enable the displaced people to return to their original homelands in the south, saying that security problems remained acute. He bemoaned the lack of adequate infrastructure for displaced people returning to the south. He said: “It is yet more insecurity that is deterring people from moving down to the south. There are on-going conflicts involving forces linked to the SPLA and the government in Khartoum. “It gives a picture of a land where people can only exist if they have a gun.”


Aid to the Church in Need - "An international Catholic charity dependent on the Holy See, providing pastoral relief to needy and oppressed churches."

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