Protecting civilians in South Sudan

Soldies-at-workshop-Akobo Presbyterians recently initiated, signed and sent an interfaith letter calling for the deployment of United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) peacekeeping forces to protect civilians in South Sudan. The letter went to Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations and Security Council members.

Reports from news media and UN organizations have documented that the violence in Southern Sudan in 2009 has been the worst since 2005—deaths from tribal conflict in Southern Sudan greatly exceeded those in Darfur. Human Rights Watch reported that “more than 1,000 men, women, and children were killed in attacks in Jonglei state in Southern Sudan in March and April 2009.” Tens of thousands have been displaced by the conflict; humanitarian access is increasingly limited.

The letter urged that UNMIS peacekeeping forces be deployed to the affected areas in a highly visible and widely ranging manner to allow for effective monitoring and conflict deterrence. The letter was created by representatives of the Sudan Advocacy Action Forum, Presbyterian mission co-worker Debbie Braaksma who serves with RECONCILE in Sudan, and  staff members of the Presbyterian UN Office, the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program and the Office of the General Assembly. Facilitating such witness in the UN community is one of many ways that the Presbyterian UN Office helps the church live out its ministry of reconciliation.

The photo was originally posted on the RECONCILE Web site and shows one of their workshops.

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