It is one year since the long-awaited independence of Southern Sudan from Sudan became a reality. The last year has seen not peace, but oppression, conflict and large-scale migration. Recently a church was destroyed, signalling a sad turn towards deliberate destruction.

The Diocese of Bradford is linked with the dioceses of Sudan and, in conjunction with the Diocese of Salisbury, is concerned to support not only the Christian community there, but also all those who are being victimised because of their ethnicity or faith.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued the following statement to mark the anniversary of independence:

The first anniversary of the new nation of South Sudan gives an opportunity for renewed effort towards achieving peaceful relations between Sudan and South Sudan. The new nation was created with the support of both South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan, and the well-being of both countries depends on their mutual co-operation. I strongly endorse the joint appeal which the Anglican and Roman Catholic Archbishops of Juba have made on this significant anniversary. As the two archbishops have warned, the current impasse is damaging to both nations. I welcome the vision which the Sudanese Church has set before us of “two nations at peace with each other, co-operating to make best use of their God-given resources, promoting free interaction between their citizens, living side by side in solidarity and mutual respect.”

I share too their hope for a just and free society in both countries in which people of all religions, ethnicities, cultures and languages enjoy the same human rights based on citizenship according to the human dignity given by God. To that end I appeal for urgent humanitarian assistance to be allowed to reach all those affected by conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States as well as in Darfur. I also urge respect for freedom of worship and religion for all the Sudanese people and am particularly concerned at the demolition without warning of St John’s Church in Hai Baraka, Khartoum, Sudan, by government authorities on 18th June. With the World Council of Churches and All Africa Conference of Churches, I call on the Government of the Republic of Sudan to investigate this and other recent incidents and to ensure religious freedom and due protection for all its people.

The World Council of Churches and the All Africa Conference of Churches issued a statement on 22 June 2012 on “Renewed Destruction of Church Property in Khartoum, Republic of Sudan, and it can be read here.

A joint message for the First Anniversary of the Independence of South Sudan on 9th July 2012 has been issued by Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, Archbishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan and Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro, Catholic Metropolitan Archbishop of Juba. All can be read or downloaded from the Archbishop of Canterbury’s website.