Sudanese Christians Still Waiting to Return Home

Bishop Says Peace Agreement Is Not Implemented

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KOENIGSTEIN, Germany, APRIL 6, 2009 ( Four years after the peace agreement, Sudanese Christian refugees are still waiting to return home, as the government continues to push a Muslim agenda, affirms a bishop of the area.

Bishop Daniel Adwok, auxiliary of Khartoum, Sudan, said this in an interview at the Aid to the Church in Need headquarters.

The aid agency reported today that displaced Christians in North Sudan need assistance, as the government’s treatment of non-Muslims “remains unchanged.”

The prelate stated that due to continuing conflicts “initiatives to move the refugees back to the south of the country have so far been sporadic.”

Despite some “conciliatory gestures,” the bishop reported that the government still promotes “the spread of Islam and the promotion of one religious and cultural identity.”

There has been little progress, he noted, since the 2005 peace agreement ended the 20-year civil war between the Khartoum government and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army/Movement.

In less than two years, he reported, a referendum will be held on the possibility of independence for the south, as stipulated by the agreement, but a resolution does not seem imminent as land disputes continue.

Key issue

Bishop Adwok asserted that “the key issue is that the Khartoum government has not honored its commitment to address the grievances of non-Muslims.”

The agreement proposed to establish a commission “for the rights of non-Muslims,” but he noted that it has not yet been established.

The prelate stated: “The government has always focused on the Islamization process. I do not see any change on the part of the authorities.”

He noted the lack of progress in efforts “to enable the displaced people to return to their original homelands in the south.” For those attempting to return home, there are obstacles of continuing security problems and a lack of infrastructure, he said.

The bishop stated: “It is yet more insecurity that is deterring people from moving down to the south. There are ongoing conflicts involving forces linked to the [rebel group] and the government in Khartoum.

“It gives a picture of a land where people can only exist if they have a gun.”

Bishop Adwok said that some Khartoum Christians who tried to return home were forced to return north after finding “no opportunities for work and a lack of proper housing, roads and other communications.”

Thanking the aid agency for their assistance, especially with education for 15,000 children, the prelate said “The displaced people in the north need schools and hope.”

He concluded, “We would have a sad future if we have no qualified individuals who have had a Christian education and hope to live in an Islamic society, making a positive contribution to the greater good.”

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