Caritas Internationalis says independence for South Sudan marks a moment of hope after decades of war and the loss of millions of lives. The Republic of South Sudan becomes independent from the rest of Sudan on 9 July 2011 under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (2005).
Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Michel Roy will be in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, for independence day celebrations. He said, “Independence marks the end of a long walk to freedom for the people of South Sudan. Millions of lives have been sacrificed on that journey and millions more have been forced from their homes.
“Caritas and our Catholic Church partners have walked with them, trying to bring divided communities together, providing humanitarian relief and supporting development programmes and urging governments to ensure international support for the peace process.
“Few believed we would see this day, and it is a testament to the faith-filled lives of those who have made it possible. The people of South Sudan and their brothers and sisters in northern Sudan have shown that peace is possible. We now have the opportunity to chart a common future based on a just peace and development that they deserve.
“Caritas is committed to working with the people of South Sudan. Providing basic needs such as clean water, health, and food will be the immediate priority. Caritas also aims to increase long-term assistance that lifts people out of poverty and builds a diverse economy through education, agriculture, providing livelihoods and rebuilding infrastructure.
“Development is the new name for peace, and without an end to the conflict neither South Sudan nor Sudan will prosper. Significant strides have been made in consolidating the progress made to date through supporting development, but challenges remain.
“Many of the key provisions of the peace deal have not yet been implemented. The international community must ensure all of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is fully realised. Failure to do so has already led to an outbreak of violence in the border area. Caritas calls for an immediate end to the violence in Abyei and the Nuba Mountains in Southern Kordofan.
“Caritas condemns the increasing number of inter-ethnic clashes in the region, and the ongoing attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The people of Darfur still suffer, and this suffering and insecurity must be resolved to bring peace and development to the region.
“The violence has been marked by an increase in abuse, rape and the killing of women, the elderly and children. Caritas urges both governments in Khartoum and Juba to protect their citizens and ensure those responsible for crimes face justice. The governments in Sudan and South Sudan must also protect the rights of minorities, particularly the religious and ethnic minorities historically marginalised.”
Caritas members working side-by-side with Sudanaid (Caritas Sudan) and national and diocesan Church partners have launched a joint coordinated programme to provide basic needs to vulnerable people. The programme also includes developing local Church institutions so they can continue the work into the future. Caritas is also supporting local peacebuilding, preparing for future emergencies and backing a global prayer campaign.
For interviews with Michel Roy and other Caritas staff in South Sudan, please contact Michelle Hough firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0039 334 2344 136.