World Council of Churches urges for an immediate ceasefire in Sudan

In a statement released on Monday the WCC general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay appeals for an end to the fighting that broke out on April 15 urging the military to return on the path towards democracy.

By Lisa Zengarini

As violent fighting between rival armed military factions continues in Sudan, the World Council of Churches (WCC) has added its voice in calling for an immediate end to armed hostilities for the sake of the suffering Sudanese people.

In a statement released on Monday, WCC general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay expressed “deep sadness” at the sudden escalation of the conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), loyal to the de facto president General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the former notorious Janjaweed militias led by his deputy General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

Over 180 people killed, according to UN

The clashes broke out on 15 April, after months of heightened tensions between the two former allies in the military coup that in October 2021 halted Sudan’s transition to democratic rule following the ousting of long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir in 2019. Both have exchanged blame for starting the violence, which has killed at least 144 civilians (185 according to UN sources),   including three World Food Programme (WFP), injuring at least 1,400.

The fierce fighting has caused the suspension of many schools, health facilities, markets and other basic services,  as well as of vital humanitarian operations in the country.

WCC's concern for impact of violence on the population

In the statement, Reverend Pillay expresses the WCC’s deep concern about the wider impact of the violence on the Sudanese population, who “was already experiencing significant humanitarian needs, political and economic challenges, a high rate of inflation, widespread poverty, and severe impacts of climate change.”

The WCC, therefore, calls for an immediate ceasefire for the sake of the Sudanese people and reiterates its November 2021 appeal “urging the de facto military authorities of Sudan to hand back the control that they illegitimately seized in October 2021, and to return Sudan to the democratic path from which it was improperly diverted”.

“We call on all Sudanese leaders to remember their responsibilities towards the people and to work to address the political, economic, social and environmental challenges affecting the country.”

Prayerful solidarity with people and Churches in Sudan

While expressing prayerful closeness to the families of the victims and the injured, Reverend Pillay concludes by inviting “international ecumenical solidarity, support and prayer for the Churches of Sudan”  and prays that “God may grant peace and restore stability in Sudan”.

A long history of internal war in Sudan

WCC’s appeal adds to the chorus of global voices, including that of the United States, the African Union, and leading Arab states, calling for a permanent end to the violence and the resumption of talks aimed at restoring a civilian government in the country.

Sudan has a long history of internal war, instability and of human rights violations, which have continued even after the independence of South Sudan in 2011, and after the overthrow of long-time autocrat and suspected war criminal Omar al-Bashir in the 2019 military coup.

The two strongmen of the new military regime established in October 2021 disagree on how to restore civilian rule to Sudan, and specifically on the deadline to bring the RFS paramilitary into the army.

General Dagalo claims to represent marginalised groups against the country's elites, but his formerly Janjaweed militias have been accused of widespread human rights abuses and of ethnic cleansing during the conflict in Sudan's Darfur.

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18 April 2023, 15:54