by James A. Ferrier at MissionNet
While the causes of the long running civil conflict in Sudan are complex-religious, racial, political, and economic-the main sticking point that unravels peace talks is the issue of Islamisation. The president of Sudan himself calls the conflict a jihad and has vowed to build a society on the principles of Islam, with Sharia (Islamic) Law imposed nationwide.
Nineteen years of conflict have claimed some two million lives, but in the midst of this, the Sudanese church has grown phenomenally. This is most notable in the South, with an increase in Christians from about 5 percent of the population in 1960 to 70 percent today. The war has scattered the believers, and churches have been established in previously unreached areas. Many have turned to Christ. If there were religious freedom in Sudan, some believe there would be a great harvest also in the north amongst the Arab Muslims.
The Southern Sudanese are suffering intensely. Slavery is endemic, aerial bombardment is routine, and the Government of Sudan (GoS) continues to orchestrate famine as a weapon of mass genocide. Though rich in resources, Sudan is reduced to poverty by the GoS spending about a million dollars a day on its jihad against the South. An international panel investigating slavery in Sudan recently reported that it was ‘commonplace,' with Southern villagers being abducted during raids by pro-government militias. Victims are forced to convert to Islam. In the Western Upper Nile, some 32 people died and massive casualties were inflicted when a relief center and four other villages were bombed May 22-26.
On May 28, the GoS declared that all Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) operations from Kenya would be terminated and moved inside Sudan under GoS control. This continues the GoS' increasing manipulation of OLS and extending the region to which OLS is denied. This is putting an estimated 1.7 million Southern Sudanese at risk of starvation.
Meanwhile, the West is increasingly eager to engage with Sudan-not over persecution, but for business interests in the burgeoning Sudanese oil industry, or intelligence that might assist the ‘War on Terror.' In the meantime, the church in Southern Sudan suffers unspeakable horrors that we must articulate.
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