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Sudan ablaze, diocese reports: The Church of England Newspaper, June 24, 2011 p 9. June 29, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Persecution.

Sudan Archbishop Daniel Deng and Bishop Abraham Nhial of Aweil in 2009

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Soldiers loyal to the Islamist government in Khartoum have burned the town of Abyei in Sudan’s South Kordofan state, driving its inhabitants into the bush at the height of the rainy season.

In an email sent to the Anglican Church in North America, the secretary of the Diocese of Aweil, the Rev Stephen Muo on 17 June reported the “whole town was completely set on fire.”

“All the civilians are now down on the streets and in bushes, with no food, no shelters, no water and no medical assistant. [The] majority are still under the trees with children, sick people and elderly people. Aweil Diocese is left with no choice but raise the voice of voiceless for relief assistant,” Mr Muo said.

Fighting erupted last month after northern troops loyal to Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir wrested control of the town of Abyei from troops of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) of southern leader Salva Kiir. The battle has spread across the surrounding South Kordofan State and forced tens of thousands of civilians to flee south from the fighting.

The BBC reported on 14 June that Mr Bashir and Mr Kiir had agreed to a deal brokered by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former South African President Thabo Mbeki and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to pull their troops back from the disputed region. The deal will also see Ethiopian troops under UN command deployed to Abyei, which will become a demilitarised zone, to help mediate the deal.

However, heavy fighting is continuing across South Kordofan state.

Last week Dr Rowan Williams released a statement deploring the “mounting level of aggression and bloodshed” in South Sudan.

“Numerous villages have been bombed. More than 53,000 people have been driven from their homes. The new Anglican cathedral in Kadugli has been burned down,” the Archbishop reported, adding Kadugli had also been “overrun by the army, and heavy force is being used by government troops to subdue militias in the area, with dire results for local people. Many brutal killings are being reported.”

Dr Williams urged a multi-national response to the crisis and urged Prime Minister David Cameron’s government “which has declared its commitment to a peaceful future for Sudan,” to “play an important part” in ending the conflict.

The Diocese of Aweil has asked for “for urgent support for the civilians who are now lying on the ground without medical attention, shelters, food and water.”

Bishop Abraham Nhial of Aweil asked Christians to “remember in your prayers and advocacy for our brothers and sisters of Abyei who are still missing, those in the bush, and those on the streets in Southern Sudan towns. As always, your prayers are needed for the people of Abyei and the world.”

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