By Stan Friedman
GAMBELLA, ETHIOPIA (April 8, 2014) — Leaders of the Evangelical Covenant Church of South Sudan say they hope a peace accord signed earlier this year between rebel leader David Yau Yau and the government will end ethnic violence in which members of the Murle and Lo Nuer tribes kidnapped each other’s women, children, and cattle.
The treaty is not connected with the civil war occurring between the government and forces led by Vice President Dr. Riek Mach. That conflict has forced the ECCSS to set up its temporary headquarters here.
“David Yau Yau’s group that rebelled against the government in 2010 has caused tremendous violence which cost thousands of innocent lives, huge destruction of the valuable assets and mass displacement in volatile Jonglei State,” said Mathew Jock Moses, ECCSS projects and social development director.
“The agreement is a big relief to all innocent people whose lives are being threaten by deadliest four years conflict,” Moses said. “It is also a big relief to all peace lovers who pray day and night for the peace and stability in Jonglei State and South Sudan at large.”
To read a previous story on the conflict, click here
Covenant World Relief had provided assistance four times to villagers who fled attacks. “The reliefs have saved lives and mitigated the suffering of thousands of innocent civilians who were victimized by the violence in Jonglei State,” Moses said.
“Our profound thanks to David Husby (CWR executive director), CWR commission members, and ECC congregation members in USA for their relentless love and commitments,” Moses said. “Hence, let us continue our prayers that this peace agreement will yield very strong fruits and shall be followed by other warring parties as exemplary way of solving the dispute.”
The war between the government and forces of Machar continues, however. Peace talks resumed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last week. “The two parties have agreed on cessation of hostilities and accepted the participation of Civil Society Organizations and Faith Base Organizations as observers and consultants without precondition,” Moses said. “The ECCSS has forwarded its request to participate as observer in dialogue through South Sudan Council of Churches.”
Family members of South Sudan Covenanters in the United States are among the more than 1,000 people killed and the roughly 800,000 people displaced. Covenant World Relief has provided support to refugees who fled the war into neighboring countries.
Last week, the United Nations warned that South Sudan, the newest country in the world and one of the poorest, could experience the some of the worst famine in Africa since the 1990s.
More aid and a ceasefire to let farmers reach their fields is needed, Toby Lanzer, the U.N.’s top aid official in the country, told reporters. “If we miss the planting season, there will be a catastrophic decline in food security.”
Some seven million people will suffer, he said.
Husby and the directors of other international aid organizations have said getting assistance into South Sudan is nearly impossible due to the fighting.