April 14, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudanese religious leaders have warned of a looming humanitarian disaster in the country, stressing war was never a remedy to any political differences.
- South Suda religious leaders pray for a peace ahead of a referendum in 2011 (Michael Wagner/Church of Brethen)
“The current situation can never be resolved through military means; instead the war lengthens and aggravates it to undesirable situation. The warring parties should therefore put the interest of the people of this country first than individual ambitions," partly reads a statement from South Sudan Council of Churches.
The religious council, which brings together leaders from different religious denominations, issued their statement following reports that the country’s rival forces lately clashed in various parts of the oil-producing Unity and Upper Nile states.
The clerics urged the warring parties to respect the terms of the ceasefire agreement, which they signed on 23 January.
"It is a very fragile ceasefire and the international community should demonstrate strong commitment towards making the two sides respect the terms of the ceasefire pact," it added.
The current crisis, according to the clerics, could turn into the worse humanitarian situation, if no immediate attention was given to it by the international community.
“We called on the warring parties to stop fighting and called on the international community to help provide necessary support to the displaced persons, whose properties have been destroyed. Their sources of livelihoods have not been spared since this conflict erupted. This is not the future for which the people of this country voted. They wanted free and independent state. They voted to live in peace, tranquility and in love with one another as brothers and sisters and people of God”, the clerics said.
Heavy firing, reportedly involving the use of heavy machine guns by both the government and rebels forces were reported in the outskirt of Bentiu town, capital of Unity state and surrounding areas took place on Sunday and resumed early Monday morning .
Local officials told Sudan Tribune that civilians who returned to Bentiu town were frightened by the violence outbreak, forcing them into United Nations mission camps.
Unity state Deputy Governor, Stephen Mabek Lang, confirmed eruption of heavy gunfire, accusing rebels have never honoured the ceasefire agreement which the signed last January.
"The past few days, in particular, have brought reports of renewed and escalating violence," he said. In addition, rebels of Riek Machar have not failed to respect the terms of cessation of hostilities agreement”, Lang exclusively told Sudan Tribune on Monday.
He gave no details on casualties and whether or not the rebels had taken control of the oil area located in Tor Abieth area, some 35 kilometers north west of Bentiu town.