By BosNewsLife Africa Service
KHARTOUM, SUDAN (BosNewsLife)– Sudanese Christians urged fellow believers around the world to pray for Friday, July 8, just hours before the North and South were to become separate countries, amid concerns of more violence and fears many believers will lose basic rights.
“Many of the South’s leaders have high hopes for the new state of South Sudan, with festivities planned for the capital, Juba. However, the new country will face many challenges,” including possible clashes as “several armed groups have already formed within its borders,”said advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC), which distributed the prayer appeals.
MEC said Christians are also concerned their new nation “will be ranked at the bottom of the Human Development index [and] has limited physical and economic infrastructure.”
Additionally, the citizenship and residential status of those of Southern origin living in the North, many of whom are Christian, remains unclear, MEC said. “There is a fear that some will loose their right to stay, causing Northern Christians, especially those from Muslim backgrounds, to be in a more vulnerable position. There are also fears that Churches in the North may face further restrictions on their freedom of worship if the government…implements a strict form of Shari’a on all residents.”
MEC said there have also been violent clashes in several Northern provinces near the North-South border. “There are two main aspects to these clashes. First, the displacement of those perceived as being loyal to the South, many of whom are amongst the estimated 170,000 people that have been displaced. Second, clarification of the status of these areas, either as joining the South (which appears unlikely) or securing greater autonomy within the North.”
MEC described the clashes as “politically motivated, with loyalty and control of resources amongst the motivations.” The attacked communities include Christians, some of whom have been displaced.
The group said Christians are also concerned that in South Kordofan the North’s forces targeted community leaders and “important institutions, which are mainly churches and mosques.”
In one of recent reported incidents, two Christians were murdered on June 8. “Nimeri Philip Kalo, a student at St. Paul Major Seminary, was shot dead by members of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in front of bystanders. Adeeb Gismalla Aksam, 33, the son of an elder in the Evangelical Church, was killed by militants loyal to the SAF in Kadugli Market,” MEC said.
It said the incidents have raised fears amongst Christians that others would be targeted and that authorities or the United Nations would not act to protect them.
MEC added that there have also been clashes within Southern provinces near the border. “These are primarily about the degree of local autonomy and share of national resources.”
In statements, distributed by MEC, Sudanese Christians requested prayers that “The rights of all Christians, particularly those in Northern Sudan, will be respected” as well as “an end to violence throughout Sudan” while “Those bereaved will know Jesus’ comfort, those wounded or traumatized will know Jesus’ healing touch and those displaced Jesus’ presence.”
They also asked prayers for Church leaders, support for displaced people, and that the “governments of North and South will rule justly for the benefit of all citizens, with equitable allocation of national resources to all provinces.”