GAMBELA, ETHIOPIA (December 23, 2015) – Two ministers of the Evangelical Covenant Church of South Sudan (ECCSS) will be among 150 people who will return to South Sudan as part of an advance team to begin implementing a peace accord sign last August between the government and the SPLM-IO rebel group.
“The second advance team will include civil society organizations, faith base groups, youths, women, humanitarians, medical doctors and others,” said Mathew Jock, ECCSS projects and social development director. Among them will be ministers Rev. James Duol and Rev. Gabriel Biel.
The first advance team of 150 people arrived at the capital city of Juba earlier this week. A final team of 309 people will return to Juba sometime next month. Former vice president Riek Machar, the leader of the opposition group, is expected to return in late January.
The civil war that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people and displaced more than two million people erupted in December following a skirmish in Juba between soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir and Machar. The ECCSS moved its headquarters to Gambela due to the conflict.
Kiir is of the Dinka tribe and Machar is Nuer, but Mathew and other observers have said the tensions have been as much political as tribal. Both sides have been accused of committing atrocities.
In refugee camps, the ECCSS has been leading the South Sudan Refugee Peace, Reconciliations, and Healing Project, which is bringing together 250 people of different tribes to be trained as peace ambassadors in three camps located in Ethiopia and Kenya. See Covenanters Pursue Peace for more on the project.
Jock said, “We are asking your unrelenting commitment to pray for the peace and the people of South Sudan and continue your supports to save and transform the lives of the people of South Sudan.”