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South Sudan Under Siege Days Before Gaining Independence

Northern Sudanese attacks on the southern region of Sudan have erupted as the South prepares to secede from Africa’s largest country in July.

The town of Abyei and the neighboring region of South Kordofan in Southern Sudan have been devastated with violence and human rights violations. News reports state that some 140,000 people have fled due to recent clashes.

Nearly 99% of Southern Sudanese voters opted for independence in hopes of ending two decades of north-south conflict that has left some 1.5 million people dead, but the transition has come with much turmoil.

Amid the looting, destruction, bombings and shootings, there are now reports of ethnic cleansing to deter pro-southern groups.

Bishop Abraham Nhial leads the Anglican Diocese of Aweil in Abyei, Sudan. He sends the following message to the Anglican Church in North America family:

“I ask you all to remember in your prayers and advocacy for our brothers and sisters of Abyei who are still missing, those in the bush, and those on the streets in Southern Sudan towns. As always, your prayers are needed to people of Abyei and the world.”

The Rev. Stephen Muo, Secretary of the Diocese of Aweil, offered the following recount of what has happened in the town of Abyei:

“The whole town was completely set on fire [by Sudanese forces]. All the civilians are now down on streets and in bushes, with no food, no shelters, no water and no medical assistant. Majority are still under the trees with children, sick people and elderly people. Aweil Diocese is left with no choices but raise the voice of voiceless for relief assistant.

“Aweil Diocese is calling for urgent support for the civilians who are now lying on the ground without medical attention, shelters, food and water. People with communicable diseases are forced to sleep together with healthy people and this could spread the effect of disease [to] all displaced people if no urgent humanitarian relief intervention reaches them.”

The Anglican Relief and Development Fund has a strategic initiative in Southern Sudan to address the food shortages resulting from years of conflict and violence. Currently, they are supporting a farming project training the local people in new agricultural techniques to help move them from subsistence to self-sufficient farming. One participant, Dakaende Samuel, said, “With the result of what we get, we can be able to raise food for our families, pay school fees for our children and live a better life in the newly to be republic of South Sudan. To support ARDF’s relief and development work in Southern Sudan click here. You may also mail a check with “Sudan” in the memo line to: ARDF, P.O. Box 3830, Pittsburgh, PA 15230-3830.

Photo Caption: Northern forces seized the disputed town of Abyei last month, raising fears of a new north-south war. Credit: AFP

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