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Global church council calls for immediate ceasefire in Sudan, Episcopal relief agency reaches out to help

Staff and guests gathered in in the chapel of the Ecumenical Center in Geneva to pray for peace in Sudan. Photo/Grégoire de Fombelle/WCC

The Rev. Jerry Pillay, general secretary of the Geneva-based World Council of Churches, said the global organization “is deeply saddened” by the armed unrest in Sudan that has resulted in more than 400 deaths over the last two weeks.

Several nations and the U.N. moved rapidly to evacuate embassy staff and other personnel from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum after the fighting broke out on April 15.

Meanwhile, Episcopal Relief & Development said it is contacting partners in the multiple countries that border Sudan where people are fleeing, to assess their needs.

Pillay’s message noted “the sudden escalation of conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of Sudan’s transitional governing Sovereign Council, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.”

He said that the armed violence and instability, which has also resulted in the deaths of three U.N. staff, has resulted in the suspension of World Food Program and other humanitarian operations in Sudan.

“Many people – including staff of the Sudan Council of Churches – have been trapped in the offices or workplaces due to the unforeseen sudden onset of the fighting. Schools, health facilities, markets and other basic services have closed or reduced their operations.

“The WCC is gravely concerned about the wider impacts on the Sudanese population, which was already experiencing significant humanitarian needs, political and economic challenges, a high rate of inflation, widespread poverty, and severe impacts of climate change.

“WCC appeals for an immediate ceasefire and end to armed hostilities, for the sake of the suffering Sudanese people. We call on all Sudanese leaders to remember their responsibilities to the people, and to work to address the political, economic, social and environmental challenges affecting the country,” he said, adding that the country’s de facto military authorities should hand back power and return Sudan to “the democratic path.”

In South Sudan, which gained its independence from Sudan in 2011, Episcopal Relief & Development partners with the South Sudanese Development and Relief Agency (SSUDRA), the relief and development arm of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, to address ongoing issues in South Sudan and to strengthen SSUDRA’s operations.

Disaster management teams trained by Episcopal Relief & Development have led emergency response efforts during crises, helping to meet the needs of people displaced by the ongoing and chronic tribal civil conflict within South Sudan.

Besides South Sudan, the countries bordering Sudan are Egypt, Libya, Chad, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

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