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Home Mission The Sudan Link Appeal on Abyei Crisis from Bishop Abraham

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Appeal on Abyei Crisis from Bishop Abraham

by Sudan Link admin last modified 20 Jul, 2011 05:43 PM
Bishop Abraham in AgokAGOK, SUDAN – Rt. Rev. Abraham Yel Nhial, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Aweil, is calling for increased international attention to the situation of internally displaced persons in Abyei area on the border between north and south Sudan and concrete steps to secure lasting peace in the region.
 
Speaking at the conclusion of a four-day pastoral visit in Abyei area, Bishop Abraham said, “While international attention has shifted to the attacks in the Nuba Mountains, my people in Abyei continue to suffer. Emergency aid efforts are concluding but people still lack the necessary food, shelter, and medication.” Classrooms in a diocesan school have been turned into shelter for refugees, delaying the start of the school year.
 
The northern army and allied militias attacked Abyei in May, displacing tens of thousands of people across three states. The displacement meant that one planting season was missed, creating a huge need for food. As part of his visit, Bishop Abraham delivered nearly 50 tonnes of relief material donated by church groups. “We are grateful for the support from international partners but the need still remains,” said Bishop Abraham.
 
Ethiopian peacekeepers under the auspices of the United Nations began to deploy in Abyei during the bishop's visit. “But my people are deeply suspicious of the UN – and with good reason,” said Bishop Abraham. “During the attacks in May, some sought shelter in UN compounds but were denied. They were killed while UN personnel did nothing.” The Ethiopian mission has a stronger mandate but displaced people are not yet convinced of the credibility of the mission.
 
Bishop Abraham and BridgeBishop Abraham has been trying to visit displaced persons across his large diocese but has been stymied by logistical challenges posed by the onset of the wet season in South Sudan. “My people need pastoral care and my priests need support as they deal with this crisis,” said Bishop Abraham. “I have been unable to visit all of them as is necessary.” Other logistical challenges were created by the attacks: the only bridge connecting the northern and southern halves of Abyei was destroyed in May and Bishop Abraham was unable to visit the entire region.
 
To secure peace in Abyei, Bishop Abraham is calling for the following actions:
  • A high-level meeting between church leaders, government officials, and Ethiopian commanders so church leaders can brief peacekeepers with on-the-ground information they have collected over the last several months and receive assurances that the Ethiopian mission will provide credible security. Bishop Abraham has written to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson and Special Envoy Princeton Lyman for help in arranging the meeting;
  • Continued international aid to the internally displaced persons from Abyei, including those in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, Western Bahr el Ghazal State, and Warrap state;
  • Logistical and financial assistance so that the bishop and his staff can visit displaced people throughout the diocese to continue to assess their needs and provide much-needed pastoral care.
 
“It is critically important that the people of Abyei be able to return to their homes to take advantage of the second planting season in September and reduce their dependence on food aid,” said Bishop Abraham. “But they will not return under current conditions. As we celebrate the recent independence of South Sudan, we must remember that some issues remain unresolved. The steps I am calling for will lay the foundation for future peace in Abyei.”
 
Bishop Abraham worshipsBishop Abraham Yel Nhial is a former “Lost Boy,” who walked from Aweil to refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya during the Sudanese civil war before being resettled in the United States. The author of Lost Boy No More: A True Story of Survival and Salvation, Bishop Abraham is a graduate of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania and a noted speaker on peace and reconciliation in the church. He will be visiting the United States in October and is available for speaking engagements.
 
For more information:
Bishop Abraham Yel Nhial
+249 955 621 584
+249 929 516 248

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