UK aid agencies including Tearfund and Christian Aid have used the International Day of Peace today to highlight the need for peace in South Sudan.
With Oxfam, CAFOD, Mercy Corps, Saferworld and Conciliation Resources, the agencies released a statement urging support for the peace deal between warring parties signed on September 12.
It says: 'Peace is the first and foremost priority to our partners and the communities we work with in South Sudan. We want to reiterate our solidarity with South Sudanese women, men, boys and girls who bear the brunt of the devastating conflict which broke out in December 2013.
'We are gravely concerned about the continuation of violence which has forced more than 4.3 million people to flee their homes. The conflict has led to 7 million people in South Sudan requiring humanitarian assistance. Up to 2.4 million children are out of school in the country – the highest proportion of out of school children in the world.
'In the wake of the signing of the peace agreement last week, all sides need to immediately stop all hostile and violent action. The implementation of the peace agreement should be a key priority for all parties and any other interests should be put aside.'
The statement says peace needs 'more than a formal agreement', stressing the need for local community-based reconciliation and peace-building projects.
It says: 'Civil society, youth groups, diaspora communities, women's groups and faith-based organisations can play a key role in the prevention and resolution of conflict in South Sudan. Exclusion of these groups from peacebuilding efforts – at national, regional or local-level – marginalises the voices of ordinary South Sudanese. Building sustainable peace is a long-term process and empowering people to reconcile their differences locally and end violence is an achievable and crucial step forward.'
Source: Christian Today