The victims of the tornado in Joplin, Missouri aren't the only ones getting my prayers lately. I'm also praying for those who lost their homes this week half a world away.
The Anglican Alliance is calling for immediate assistance for as many as 30,000 Sudanese internally displaced by the Northern Government’s troop incursion into Abyei.
A local church leader expressed the urgency of the situation in a report from Warrap State:
" The situation on the ground is worsening. Displaced people and children are seriously affected living under trees in Agok. Civilians are down on streets and in bushes, no food, no shelter, no water and no medical assistance.
A local school has accommodated 2,800 displaced people despite the fact that there is very limited space for such a huge number of people. There is no other option, the deteriorating conditions force us to accept them in. The majority are still under trees with children, sick people and elderly people. People with communicable diseases are forced to sleep together with healthy people.
We are now calling for urgent support for civilians, who are lying on the ground without medical attention, shelter, food and water. We are left no choice but to raise the voice of the voiceless for relief assistance".
The Anglican Alliance says a planned food distribution was cancelled because of a lack of security in the Abyei/Agok area. The humanitarian crisis is compounded by heavy rainfall.
Meanwhile, United States Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice called on the Sudanese government to conduct an immediate, unconditional, and complete withdrawal of its troops from the Abyei area.
“What has transpired is a grave risk to peace and stability," said Rice. "It is a very serious violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.”
Watch her remarks here:
When the Islamist government of the North and the Christian-dominated Sudan People’s Liberation Movement of the South signed the 2005 peace agreement, they agreed that a referendum would be held to determine the future of Abyei. Like the people of the South, the people of Abyei—mostly ethnic Dinka Christians would likely have voted to secede from Sudan and join the South.
But the Northern government wanted to allow nomads known as the Misseriya—primarily Muslims and animists—to be allowed to vote in the referendum. The Southern Sudanese objected, because the Misseriya are not permanent residence of Abyei.
When the dispute went unresolved prior to last January’s referendum on southern independence, the Northern Sudanese government announced there would be no referendum for Abyei--the matter would be resolved later. Later came this past weekend when Khartoum perhaps created an incident so it could justify sending troops into the area.
Sudanese President Omar el Bashir insists he will not allow the oil-rich Abyei region to become part of South Sudan.
View video from Abyei here:
Will the Northern government action reignite a war between the two sides? The last one they fought lasted nearly 22-years and claimed more than 2-million lives. South Sudan President Salva Kyir says he will not lead his new country to war over Abyei.
Abyei isn’t the only unresolved matter between North and South. Still to be resolved are final borders between the country and the sharing of oil wealth.
Pray that war will not be the first task facing South Sudan when it becomes the world’s newest country July 9th. Pray the 30,000 displaced people of Abyei-- lacking food, medical care and shelter--will get the help they desperately need.