KHARTOUM, Sudan, APRIL 7, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The auxiliary bishop of Khartoum is affirming that the violence that has claimed hundreds of lives in that country will not impede plans for South Sudan’s independence.
There have been reports of hundreds of deaths in recent weeks due to conflicts between rebels and the army of South Sudan, as that region prepares to become the 54th independent African state in July.
Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Adwok Kur told Aid to the Church in Need that there have been “large amounts of violent incidents” in the aftermath of the January referendum, in which 98% of voters in Southern Sudan chose to become independent from the north.
The prelate reported that the conflicts have been “intense,” but that they will not impede the path the independence.
He affirmed: “These violent incidents will impede progress but it will not wash away from them their wish to acquire independence.
“The wish to be independent from the north is not somehow grafted onto them — it is in their heart that they want to be independent.”
The bishop urged the government to address the “root causes” of the conflict.
He stated: “It would be best to sit down and discuss the issues. We have to ask the people what is the root of the tension.
“If we do not address that, after some months or years it will cause the disturbance to widen.”
Bishop Adwok also stressed the need for aid as thousands of refugees move from the north to the south. The aid agency noted that an estimated 750,000 people are expected to arrive in South Sudan before August.
The Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference has organized an extraordinary plenary meeting in Juba, after which they will meet with government officials and discuss the goal of building peace in that region.
Bishop Adwok also emphasized the priority of working with the people through education, expressing appreciation for assistance from Aid to the Church in Need.
He affirmed, “The Church has always recognized that human formation and education is at the heart of forming a healthy society and developing schools with a clear Christian identity is very important in the south as well as the north.”
The prelate noted that although many families are leaving Khartoum, located in the northern part of Sudan, some are remaining in their homes with the hope that the government will not pursue extreme Islamist, anti-Christian policies.
In this regard, he noted, the education programs have been important to aid these families.