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In the wake of south Sudan’s vote for independence, the work of prayer, peacebuilding and advocacy continue.
In January 2011, the people of south Sudan voted overwhelmingly to become the world’s newest independent nation. More than 97 percent of those registered voted in a week‐long referendum that was—against all predictions—orderly, peaceful and fair.
After decades of suffering and violence, the peaceful referendum was
nothing short of a miraculous answer to intense prayer and peacebuilding efforts.
An official declaration of south Sudan’s independence is expected to be made on July 9, 2011. Meanwhile, the effort to foster a sustainable peace in Sudan must not let up.
Several provisions of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the settlement that brought decades of civil war between north and south Sudan to an end, still must be resolved. These include issues of border demarcation, citizenship, oil revenue sharing and debt allocation.
Concerns persist for the security and rights of minorities remaining in the north; and tensions in the border areas of Abyei, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile must be addressed. Likewise, the people of Darfur’s plight and insecurity must be resolved to bring peace and development to the region.
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have called upon the Obama Administration to provide significant and sustained humanitarian and development assistance to consolidate the progress toward peace, and provide tangible encouragement that Africa’s longest running war is truly over. It is crucial
that the United States remain actively engaged in Sudan throughout this post‐referendum period.
That means that we, people of faith, are called to persist in our prayer and action toward peace in Sudan. To stay informed about the latest efforts of CRS and the USCCB to help ensure peace in Sudan, join our Catholics Confront Global Poverty initiative.
The Road to the Referendum
South Sudan’s historic referendum on independence was a provision of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended more than 45 years of intermittent war in Africa’s largest country. The conflict between the north and south had claimed more than 2 million lives.
In the months leading up to the January 2011 referendum, people of faith the world over joined the Catholic Church in Sudan for 101 Days of Prayer for Peace in Sudan through liturgies, daily prayer opportunities and acts of faithful solidarity.
In addition, CRS’ peacebuilding work on the ground in Sudan helped educated and mobilize people as they prepared for the referendum. Catholics and others in the United States called upon their representatives in the U.S. government to promote a peaceful transition for Sudan. And the Catholic Church in Sudan, with the assistance of CRS and others, provided emergency aid and conflict mitigation skills to help prevent a return to violence.
Likewise, USCCB continued its long history of supporting the Church and people of Sudan through pastoral visits and advocacy.
CRS has been working in Sudan since the end of the first major civil war in 1972 and is one of the largest nongovernmental humanitarian agencies working in the country, serving more than 1 million people.