Having been out of my office for the last week (in parishes and meetings – not skiving), I haven’t been able to update on what is happening in Northern Sudan or what we are doing in relation to it. So, the latest is as follows:
There is a very good interview with Bishop Andudu (Bishop of Kadugli) in Religion Dispatches (an online magazine based in San Fransisco).
Bishop Andudu also issued a call to prayer and fasting – a call being taken up in this country, too. He wrote on 18 June as follows:
On behalf of my people in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan we are asking all Sudanese Christians wherever they are, and the Church throughout the world to join with us in a day of prayer and fasting on June 26, 2011. Once again we are facing the nightmare of genocide of our people in a final attempt to erase our culture and society from the face of the earth. It is not a war between armies that is being fought in our land, but the utter destruction of our way of life and our history, as demonstrated by the genocide of our neighbors and relatives in Darfur. This is a war of domination and eradication, at its core it is a war of terror by the government of Sudan against their people. As we approach the July 9 day of independence for the New South Sudan, President Bashir has declared for all the world to hear that Sharia will be the law of the land for the North, refusing to recognize the legitimate presence of the Christian minority. It is a declaration of their determination to also end the remembrance of our Christian heritage that dates back two thousand years to the story of the Ethiopian eunuch (who was from modern day Sudan). At this moment, there is a meeting in Ethiopia with the different parties of Sudan, the African Union and other international parties seeking to find a true path of peace that recognizes our right to survive and thrive as a people, both Muslim and Christian alike, with equality and justice for all. Please pray and fast with us as you are able for a solution to this crisis.
On 21 June the Africa Minister in the UK Foreign Office, Henry Bellingham, welcomed the Interim Agreement brokered by the African Union, saying:
I welcome the news that the parties have signed the Abyei Interim Agreement, which should lead to swift withdrawal of Sudanese Armed Forces and the deployment of Ethiopian peacekeeping forces under a UN mandate. This is a positive step towards peace in Abyei, and towards full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. I urge the parties to redouble their efforts to reach agreement on all outstanding issues, including the status of Abyei, without delay. I reiterate my call for the parties to cease violence in Southern Kordofan and to grant and sustain full access to humanitarian aid.
I congratulate former President Mbeki, Prime Minister Meles, the AU High Level Implementation Panel and the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) on this agreement. I am grateful to them for their hard work on facilitating interim security arrangements for Abyei that will enable IDPs to return in safety, and also for their ongoing efforts to find a negotiated outcome for Southern Kordofan.
I admire his optimism, but we will watch this space with a degree of caution and pray for our brothers and sisters whose lives lie in the hands of those who will make or break any agreement after partition. Regular updates form the Bradford perspective can be found on our website.