South Sudan’s peace deal is fatally flawed, the country’s bishops said as they committed the Church to helping forge new negotiations. They also recommended a series of measures to end the conflict.
“We urge all stakeholders and friends of South Sudan to collaborate to seek a new model” for peace, the bishops said in a statement after their three day meeting this week in the capital, Juba.
While South Sudan’s main warring parties signed a deal in September to end the five-year civil war that killed almost 400,000 people and displaced millions, the situation on the ground shows that it is “not addressing the root causes of the conflicts” in the country, the bishops said. The level of open conflict has decreased, but “all parties are involved either in active fighting or preparations for war,” they said.
Human rights abuses, including murder, rape and looting, continue with impunity, they said. With only three months left in the pre-transitional phase of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan, most of what should have been achieved has not been done, the bishops said.
“This is likely to impact negatively” on the next activities in this and the following phase, they said, noting that all the “omissions and delays are deeply worrying” and “divide-and-rule” tactics seem to be in play. More than 1.5 million people in South Sudan are on the brink of starvation and more than six million people, half the population, face extreme hunger, according to the United Nations.
Photo: Armed members of the South Sudanese security forces are seen in Bentiu earlier this year. Bishops of South Sudan say the peace process is not working, and they suggest more than a dozen ways to improve the situation.