Displaying items by tag: Sudan
Ashenafi Hailu was racing on his motorcycle to the aid of a friend trapped by the Ethiopian government’s military offensive in the Tigray region when a group of men on foot confronted him, identifying themselves as militia members of a rival ethnic group. They dragged him by a noose to save bullets. As the noose tightened around his neck he thought he would die. He passed out and awoke alone near a pile of bodies. His motorcycle and cash were gone. Nearly 50,000 Ethiopians fleeing Tigray have sought safety in Sudan, in what the UN called the worst exodus of refugees Ethiopia has seen in over two decades. Reports of looting, ethnic antagonism, and killings are at odds with Ethiopia’s prime minister saying, ‘No civilians are being hurt.’ Worrying prospects are that the fighting is degenerating into a guerrilla war that could unravel both Ethiopia’s national fabric and the stability of the entire Horn of Africa region, including Eritrea and Sudan.
Starvation is being intentionally used as a war tactic in South Sudan’s brutal conflict, a UN-backed human rights panel report stated. South Sudan gained independence in 2011 but descended into conflict 2½ years later, following tensions between President Salva Kiir and his deputy. Most South Sudanese are Christian, whereas the majority in Sudan belong to the Sunni branch of Islam. Religion deeply influences governance and daily life, playing a dominant role in the nation's politics. The brutal fighting has caused incalculable suffering to civilians, and resulted in staggering levels of acute food insecurity and malnutrition. 7.5 million South Sudanese, in several areas, currently require humanitarian assistance. Both governments and opposition forces have deliberately used the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare in these areas, sometimes as an instrument to punish non-aligning communities, as in the case of Jonglei.
Sudan’s government has reached a peace agreement with a coalition of rebel groups from Darfur and other regions in the country. The agreement, which should end a civil war that has raged since 2003 and has killed 300,000 people in Darfur alone, covers land ownership, power-sharing between all parties involved, and the return of people who have fled their homes in the civil war. Rebel forces will be dismantled, but fighters will have the opportunity to join the Sudanese military. There is hope for the future. Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs says, ‘This agreement should, at least in theory, pave the way for peaceful coexistence within Sudan. Hopefully, a nation that is not focused on fighting against others within its borders can focus instead on development and on moving forward to what we hope will be a civilian rule.’
After more than three decades of Islamist rule, Sudan has passed reforms that include allowing non-Muslims to drink alcohol and have abolished the apostasy laws and flogging. From a Christian perspective, reforming the laws of the old regime allows Sudanese Christians to feel welcome in their country again now that Sudan is moving towards a government based not on religious values, but on general human rights is a major development. Pray that this move leads to an ongoing democratic transformation; so that continued reforms within government and society will favourably impact the lives of all minorities. Pray for Sudanese Christians to take advantage of new freedoms and begin to provide hope to the Muslim majority population.
We recently prayed that the preliminary Sudan peace deal with the rebel Sudan PLM would stand and end nine years of fighting and poverty in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan areas. Now the EU is allocating €30 million life-saving assistance to address various humanitarian needs in these areas that have been cut off from international assistance for years. Over nine million people are in need of humanitarian assistance; nearly two million are uprooted from their homes, while the country hosts one million refugees relying on aid for their survival. The EU complements its funding with development assistance that helps communities build resilience to increase people's access to social protection in the long-term.
After months of unrelenting demonstrations led to the fall of President Omar al-Bashir last year, Sudan entered a three-year transition towards democracy with a new cabinet in September. Hope accompanies this situation as people look for a fresh approach that will respond to their needs. Many believe only time will show whether this hope will stand. Pray that the preliminary peace deal with the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement will stand and end 9 years of fighting in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan areas. Meanwhile, efforts to conclude a peace agreement with rebels in Darfur and Eastern Sudan are also under way. Important progress was made this month when Sudan announced that it was willing in principle to hand over ousted President Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court over alleged war crimes and genocide in these areas.
Criminal charges against eight leaders of the Sudanese Church of Christ (SCOC) were confirmed on 7 October. They are charged with criminal trespass and illegal possession of church properties. The SCOC is a Nuban denomination experiencing religious and ethnic discrimination. However, a new minister of guidance and religious endowments could change the spiritual atmosphere. He stated recently, ‘Sudan is pluralistic in its thought, culture, ideologies, Islamic religious sects, and even religions.’ He also called for the return of Sudan’s Jewish community. He told the UN that ‘all public order laws are suspended and will be repealed’. These were used against women, especially those from marginalised communities. Sadly, reports emerged on 10 October that public-order police were patrolling Khartoum and harassing individuals. Pray for Sudan’s new multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious nature to be welcomed by police, and for the new policy changes to be applied by all law courts.
Sudan’s dominant religion is Islam, and it ranks 6th in the persecution table. Almost 50% of the population live below the poverty line. President al-Bashir was forced to step down after thirty years in power marked by oppression, genocide, and human rights abuses. The military now rule the country, and sharia law throughout the country allows stoning and amputations as punishments. Bashir’s military was responsible for bombing Christian civilians in the Nuba mountains. Christians are often subject to brutal treatment from the surrounding culture and from authorities; conversion from Islam to Christianity is punishable by death. Church buildings are regularly attacked and burned. The Christian community in Sudan is waiting and watching the uncertain future under military law. Pray for God to work in the hearts of Sudanese leaders, convicting them to seek justice and peace through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Sudan's ruling military council and civilian opposition alliance have signed a landmark power-sharing deal and Khartoum civilians have celebrated in the streets, dancing and waving their national flag. Omar al-Bashir, the former president of Sudan, will now face a long jail term if his high profile corruption trial finds him guilty of possessing foreign currency, corruption, receiving gifts illegally, and systematic human rights abuses.
Falafel is a cheap fast food usually snapped up quickly on the streets of Sudanese cities. But now Sadiya Seror sits with unsold trays of her chickpea patties. ‘These days people eat one meal a day; they forget the idea of three meals,’ Seror said, waiting for customers at her market stall. If you want to buy a meal for your family, it will cost around 175 Sudanese pounds. Before, the same amount would feed a family of five for three to five days.’ ‘Before’ is a reference to life prior to the pro-democracy protests that ended the 30-year corrupt regime of President Omar al-Bashir. A power-sharing deal is currently being negotiated between the military council and the civilian protesters, but what is proving harder to resolve, and dimming hopes for real change, is the impact of poverty and rising prices on a large and growing percentage of the population.