Solidarity with Southern Sudan
August 22nd, 2009
On August 21, the Catholic Task Force on Africa, of which the Oblate JPIC Office is a member, held a briefing on the project called Solidarity with Southern Sudan. Sr Cathy Arata, SSND who had been Justice and Peace Coordinator for the Sisters of Notre Dame in Rome presented. Sr. Cathy is currently living in Juba, southern Sudan where she is coordinating a multi-religious community initiative to strengthen the health, education and pastoral sectors in Southern Sudan.
Southern Sudan is one of the poorest and least-developed places in the world but most of Sudan’s resource wealth stemming from oil, gold, diamond, forest, water and fertile land come from this region. There are several foreign oil multinational companies with interests in Southern Sudan. The Northern part of Sudan is largely a desert.
The Darfur crisis is not the worst tragedy Sudan’s people have suffered in recent years. Another conflict occurred in southern Sudan, which is slowly emerging from war and displacement that lasted more than two decades. This war was between the southern, non-Arab populations and the northern, Arab-dominated government. Today, there is a fragile Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) to re-establish human services in southern Sudan and which stipulates that southern Sudan is to hold a referendum by March 2011 on whether or not it should remain as part of the Republic of Sudan.
Solidarity with Southern Sudan is a result of a request from the Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference to members of the Union of Major Superiors (USG) and International Union of Superiors General (UISG) in Rome. After decades of civil war, when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed in January 2005, the bishops of Southern Sudan invited the USG/UISG to consider the needs of their people. Following a consultative process it became clear that projects related to education, health and pastoral care are needed if the goals of the CPA are to be achieved.
Solidarity with Southern Sudan is a project that seeks to promote the Kingdom of God in partnership with the local church and the people of Sudan through the establishment and development of teacher and health training institutes and those pastoral services deemed most urgent.
There are currently 17 religious personnel working in southern Sudan from different congregations. This is a unique project because Religious communities are accustomed to working independently in their mission. In this instance, they are working collaboratively to best serve the interests of the people in southern Sudan.
The Missionary Oblates, as a member of the international religious group and in collaboration with other religious communities remain supportive of the good work of these missionaries to assist people in this troubled country through Solidarity with Southern Sudan initiative.