21 July 2015 - Christian Aid Chair, Rt. Revd. Dr. Rowan Williams and the Bishop of Torit, South Sudan, Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban, led a day of discussions mobilised by the South Sudanese community living in the UK on Saturday 18 July to examine how to achieve sustainable peace and unity in South Sudan, a country wracked by civil war.
Individuals from across the UK South Sudanese community representing all regions of South Sudan met at St John’s Church Waterloo in London to discuss the root causes of the conflict and the role of civil society in achieving peace, justice and reconciliation.
The present conflict erupted 19 months ago after a political struggle between President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar quickly escalated along ethnic lines, spreading across the country. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and it is anticipated that 6.4 million will need humanitarian assistance by the end of this year.
Bishop Paride is a member of the South Sudan Council of Churches and the Committee for National Healing, Peace and Reconciliation. In 2013, the United Nations awarded him the Sergio Vieira de Mello Prize in recognition for his efforts in promoting peace in communities, in particular in establishing the Kuron Peace Village – a model community where people from different tribes live in harmony. He also played a critical role as Chief Mediator of the Jonglei Peace Process and continues to be extremely active across South Sudan.
Rowan Williams travelled to South Sudan with Christian Aid last year and has pledged his support to the South Sudanese people. At the event, he said: “The challenges facing South Sudan have fallen off the radar of the world. Food insecurity, disease and massive displacement go on day after day.
“The churches in South Sudan continue to work together for peace and reconciliation and refuse to be led or biased by the political conflict. They continue to have a unique voice for all of South Sudan, for all of God’s children”.
Bishop Paride spoke about the spirit of forgiveness and the legacy that must be left for South Sudan’s children. He said: “The ravaging effects of war could mean the next generation grows up hating. We need change now for the sake of the children. They are innocent; they are peaceful so let us not poison their ears. The war could stop tomorrow if all sides showed love. They must forget the past, accept their wrongdoing and be forgiving. If this is done, the war will stop”.
Photos are available on request.
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Notes to editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.
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