Pray for Sudan!

by Jonathan Ball last modified 03 Jan, 2012 05:29 PM

The Bishop of Salisbury has called for renewed prayer for Sudan after an upsurge of violence in Jonglei State, South Sudan.

Pray for Sudan!

Bishop Nicholas Holtam with Archbishop Daniel Deng

In interviews on the BBC World Service, Radio 5 Live and BBC Wiltshire Sound on New Year's Day and January 2, Bishop Nicholas Holtam spoke of the tribal violence in and around Pibor County which has left a thousand dead since August, and at least 20000 people made refugees in the last few days.

The last week has seen Government troops and UN soldiers overwhelmed by tribal gunmen, and the occupation of Pibor until its recapture by the Government early on January 2.

There are reports that the Luo-Nuer have pulled out of Pibor but are moving south, further into Murle territory, where thousands of civilians have already been displaced to by the conflict.

6,000 members of the Lou-Nuer ethnic group moved into Murle territory setting fire to towns and raiding cattle, as an act of revenge for an attack in August.

Bishop Holtam reported that the Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Dr Daniel Deng, has been involved in mediation between the tribes in September and October. He now intends to travel across Jonglei to urge reconciliation and an end to violence. The Bishop added, 'His aim is to get people talking to one another, to see what they want from each other, and so get them living together in peace.'

The group’s declared aim is to capture all Murle towns and villages, disarm the population and recover over 180 Luo-Nuer children they claim were abducted by the Murle in August.

On Saturday the Vice President, Riek Machar, briefed President Salva Kiir on the escalating situation in Jonglei, prompting the deployment of additional SPLA forces to the area, while a curfew has been declared in South Sudan's capital, Juba.

Bishop Holtam concluded, 'South Sudan desperately needs the interest of the international community. Its people need our prayers because this is a situation that could spiral out of control.'

STOP PRESS TUES JANUARY 3: THE SITUATION HAS WORSENED STILL. For latest BBC assessment please click here.

To listen to Bishop Nicholas on BBC Wiltshire Sound, click here.

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