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Journeying together for reconciliation

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PRESS RELEASE

Holy Trinity Peace Village, Kuron, Eastern Equatoria State, South Sudan
December 06, 2013

The Committee for National Healing, Peace and Reconciliation held a retreat and workshop with the theme “JOURNEYING TOGETHER FOR RECONCILIATION” in Holy Trinity Peace Village, Kuron, Eastern Equatoria State, Republic of South Sudan, from 02 – 06 December 2013. This is the second full meeting of the Committee since it was formed by Republican Order of the President in April 2013. The meeting was opened by the Chair, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, and attended by the Vice Chair, Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban, and other members.

The purpose of the meeting was to reflect on healing and reconciliation, to evaluate the activities of the last six months and to endorse the Committee’s plan of activities for 2014-2016.

During the retreat the Committee learned with sadness of the death of Nelson Mandela, an iconic figure who embodied healing and reconciliation. The Committee observed a minute of silence in his memory, and expressed its condolences to the people of South Africa, Africa and the world.

The retreat began with a day of reflection led by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference. The meaning of reconciliation was explored, and it was once again emphasised that the healing and reconciliation process is spiritual, based on Christian, Muslim and African values.

The Committee underwent a day of orientation about the processes of healing and reconciliation. South African colleagues also presented an analysis highlighting key differences as well as similarities between the South African and South Sudanese models.

In May 2013 the Committee had its first meeting and began the healing and reconciliation process with a week of prayer leading to a National Day of Prayer on 8th July, which was judged to be highly successful and which will become an annual event. A National Secretariat was set up and a great deal of work was done on strategies and future activities. Sub-committees were formed in each state plus Abyei. Teams have travelled to four states to introduce the healing and reconciliation process to State Governors and other stakeholders. In September the Chair led a team to South Africa to learn from their experience and seek partnerships. After several months with virtually no funds at all, the Committee devoted a lot of effort to fund-raising and finally secured more than one million US dollars at the end of 2013.

The remainder of the week was spent on the vision and mission of the Committee and practical matters such as structures, administration and operationalisation of the process. This included the establishment of the National Secretariat, State Sub-Committees and State Secretariats. Activities and budgets for the next 6 months were finalised and approved, and longer-term projections up to 2016 were discussed.

The Committee reaffirmed that the process is spiritual rather than political. It is a long-term commitment, and it will be home-grown, informed by the history, experience and current environment of South Sudan. The Committee restated that it is independent. Following a phase in which the Committee and its structures are established, it is then to be a two-stage process. It was decided that between now and 2016 there will be broad consultations at all levels - grass-roots, state and national – that will include among others citizens, government organs, political parties, organised forces, faith communities, civil society, women, traditional leaders, youth, business, media and academics. This will be facilitated by the National Committee, the State Sub-Committees and five hundred and fifty Peace Mobilisers, fifty from each state (plus Abyei). A number of partner organisations will be identified to carry out the training of the Mobilisers.

The first stage will end with a National Reconciliation Conference in 2016, preceded by conferences at county and state level. That Conference will signal the beginning of the second stage, to propose a National Healing and Reconciliation Agenda and to invite all stakeholders (both individuals and institutions) to situate themselves within it.

The Committee expressed its gratitude to the Government of South Sudan and international partners who have provided resources to enable the process to take off, particularly the Norwegian and Swiss Governments, NCA, CRS, UNMISS, the Catholic and Anglican Churches in South Africa, and the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation. The Committee also appealed for continued support to enable it to fulfil its mission and urged all stakeholders to enter into the process and play their part.

For further information contact:

Dr Bernard Suwa, Acting Secretary General
+211 (0) 921 037 248 or (0) 955 511 800; bosuwa@gmail.com

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