Churches' solidarity visit to conflict ridden Sudan announced

By agency reporter
March 20, 2008

An international team of church representatives will pay a solidarity visit to churches and ecumenical organizations in Sudan from 26 March to 2 April 2008, it has been announced.

The team led by the WCC general secretary Rev Samuel Kobia will split in four groups to visit Darfur, Khartoum, Rumbek and Yambio before joining Sudanese church leaders, women and youth for a three-day conference in Juba.

The visit aims to be an opportunity for the international ecumenical representatives to express solidarity with the Sudanese people and listen to the churches in the country. Through visits to local Christian communities, civil society organizations, internally displaced people, humanitarian agencies and political representatives, the ecumenical team will learn about their concerns, hopes and needs.

Organized by the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC), the visit is hosted by the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC). The ACT-Caritas Darfur Emergency Response Operation will facilitate the visit to the Darfur region.

A two-decade civil war between the northern and the southern parts of the country, which killed some 2 million people and left more than 4 million internally displaced persons, ended with a precarious peace agreement in January 2005. Since early 2003 the western region of Darfur has seen an ongoing conflict between rebel groups and government backed militias in which between 200,000 and 400,000 people have been killed, an estimated 1,8 million fled their homes and another 200,000 sought refuge in neighbouring Chad and the Central African Republic.

After gathering first hand experience through field visits, the ecumenical team will join some 50 representatives of Sudanese churches in a conference taking place in Juba, the capital city of southern Sudan, from 31 March to 2 April. Church leaders, women and youth will share testimonies and discuss the challenges they face regarding peace making, HIV and AIDS, post war reconstruction and more.

The international ecumenical solidarity visit to Sudan is part of the WCC Living Letters project and the AACC Eminent Persons Ecumenical Programme for Peace in Africa. The initiative is also supported by the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa (FECCLAHA).

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