Sudan church leaders concerned over Darfur oil-war link

By Ecumenical News International
29 Aug 2007

Sudan Christian leaders are concerned that the country's oil wealth, previously used by the government in the north of the country to fuel a 21-year war in the south, is again being used for war purposes, as well as government attempts to solve the Darfur crisis - writes Fredrick Nzwili.

"One of the things we as churches fear is that most of the [oil] funds go for war and solutions in Darfur. These funds are gained from oil in Sudan," the Rev. Peter Tibi, the Sudan Council of Churches general secretary, said in Nairobi. He was speaking after attending a meeting of the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes Region and Horn of Africa recently.

"The oil business in Sudan has stirred much animosity by being at the centre of warfare and gross human rights violations for many years. We will have to thoroughly rethink the way it operates," Tibi said.

Churches and civil society in Sudan have been promoting business principles for multinational companies exploring and extracting oil in Sudan. The principles demand that companies contribute to the promotion of people's quality of life, as well as the rehabilitation and reconstruction of social and physical structures, while recognising historical injustices, and religious and cultural diversity.

"Though peace has been signed, it does not solve the ills that Sudan went through. The civil society wants to see oil managed and accounted for properly," said Tibi.

The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between North and South Sudan allowed for the Government of National Unity in Khartoum and the Government of South Sudan in Juba to share the country's oil wealth equally. But churches have been concerned that the south is missing out.

"The government in the north is using takings from fuel oil for military equipment for [its campaign in] Darfur," said the Rev Raphael Kenyi of the SCC.

The Roman Catholic auxiliary bishop in Khartoum, Daniel Adwok, in an interview with Ecumenical News International earlier this year, said that while the peace agreement provided for the sharing of oil on an equal basis, he feared most southerners did not know how much oil was extracted from the wells.

"The agreement says 50-50, but we do not know, 50-50 of what?" Adwok said.

With grateful acknowledgments to Ecumenical News International (http://www.eni.ch).

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