January 5, 2014 (JUBA) - Various religious leaders in South Sudan have expressed deep concerns over the current political and military crisis befalling the country, calling for an urgent end to the violence.
- South Sudan religious leaders pray for a peace ahead of a referendum in 2011 (Michael Wagner/File)
“We the undersigned bishops needed to add our voice and alarm the world that South Sudan is in crisis and needed urgent intervention. We the bishops and clergymen from South Sudan called this urgent meeting under the theme", the group said in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune Sunday.
“God Save Our Nation of South Sudan. We are seeking peace and ceasefire urgently and welcome the world to intervene and put an end to the rampant killing of innocent women, children, disabled and the elderly people that are dying without cause and the abuse that is now going on across the Country”, the statement added.
The leaders said they decided to alarm the global community on learning the massive destruction the, conflict which initially erupted in Juba and later extended to other parts of the country, had caused.
Over 1,000 people have been killed and about 200,000 displaced by the violence, largely blamed on forces loyal to the country’s ex-vice president Riek Machar.
“We are condemning senseless killing of civilians and call upon the President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the former Vice President Riek Machar to stop fighting and come for dialogues and peaceful negotiation than the use of gun", the clerics said.
"We urge you to put the lives of the people first and political differences should be addressed later in love and harmony", the statement stressed.
Meanwhile, the country’s religious leaders further called on the Kenyan government under the leadership president Uhuru Kenyatta, the United Nations, Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), United Kingdom and United States to approach the two leaders an an attempt to restore stability in the country.
"We are tired of war, we need peace and South Sudanese peace is African Peace. Innocent children and women are dying and wailing without knowing the cause of their death and abuse. May you come to our help and stand with us in this critical situation”, said the strongly-worded statement.
Also stressed by the various religious groups was the need for peaceful co-existence among all South Sudanese in Diaspora, particularly those within the regional countries of Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopians and many others to live in peace and harmony as brothers and sisters and abstain from from political influences.
“We strongly recommended that all tribes regardless of Dinka, Nuer, Shiluk, Lotuko, etc should not be involved in violent. The conflict that has just started in Juba should not be misunderstood as Nuer-Dinka conflict but it is a political difference among the politicians", the statement further noted.
Hence, we encourage peaceful dialogues between President Kiir and Dr. Riek to accept sitting together and resolve their political differences in a manner that portray political will and patriotism to the citizens of the Republic of South Sudan, it added.
Meanwhile, regional organisations, particularly the IGAD member countries, East Africa Community (EAC) and all humanitarian agencies have been urged to extend humanitarian assistance to victims caught up in the difficult situation.