Widening War Tensions Grip Sudanese Christians
Christian sources in both Khartoum and the Nuba Mountains have asked Open Doors to help mobilize prayer against last week’s outbreak of violence that threatens to bring Sudan and South Sudan to the brink of full-scale war. “Please pray that the violence will end, that the two Sudans will go back to the negotiation table, and that our peoples will be able to live in peace again,” said an Open Doors field worker.
In Khartoum Sudan’s parliament declared a general mobilization on April 11 to recruit men into its army and paramilitaries across the country. The order came the day after the South Sudan army’s seizure of Heglig, a disputed area in South Kordofan state containing an oilfield that accounts for about half of Sudan’s oil production.
The Sudanese government has now stopped all forms of negotiations with South Sudan, declaring the country now in a state of war. After indefinitely postponing a scheduled presidential summit last week in Juba, South Sudan has now vowed to retaliate by “all legitimate means” against the aggression launched by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) against Heglig.
A source in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, told Open Doors, “Things are crazy here from yesterday, and we started to hear the word ‘war’ everywhere. Please pray for us, especially for our brothers and sisters in the border areas.” Another Christian said, “The streets in the capital are charged, preparing for war.”
Open Doors confirmed another report last week from a source in an undisclosed area in the Nuba Mountains, stating that several Christians were either killed or wounded in attacks in the area. More than 15 Christians were killed.
Christians have asked for prayers to solve the food shortage throughout the Nuba Mountains. Most staple foods, especially sorghum, are scarce, and if available are almost impossible to afford to buy because prices have skyrocketed since the border conflicts started in June 2011. Because of repeated aerial bombings in the region, local farmers were unable to plant any crops last year. In effect, there was no harvest this season. There are fears of a full-blown famine if international aid is not allowed into the area soon.
Other serious issues include the fate of the remaining South Sudan citizens in North Sudan. On April 8, Khartoum declared that Southerners are now officially considered foreign nationals and will be treated as such. The following day, Sudanese authorities at Khartoum airport prevented hundreds of Southern Sudanese from boarding their planes to Juba, saying they could only do so now using travel documents issued by the southern capital. Thousands who are in the process of leaving North Sudan are stuck in the North. It is unclear what their fate will be if and when the war starts.
The issue of citizenship has been a contentious issue in the post-independence negotiations between North and South Sudan. Khartoum rejected any talk of dual citizenship, insisting that all 500,000 southerners in the north should make arrangements to adjust their status or return to their new state.
The question remains whether these stranded Southerners, many of whom are Christians, will be seen as enemies of North Sudan. Thousands of Southern families have nowhere to go because of this situation.
Father, we call on You to bring Your peace to the people of Sudan and South Sudan. Thank You that You sent Your Son to bridge the chasm of sin that would otherwise separate us from You, that we might live in peace. But in this world there remains much hostility toward Your people and in Sudan we pray for a peaceful end to the clashes between the North and South that threaten to result in war. We pray for both governments to return to serious negotiations that they might settle their unresolved issues. We pray that You would provide sustenance to those in the Nuba Mountains who are without sufficient food. We pray for Southerners who remain in Khartoum that they will be able to secure travel permits to return to the South. Protect them, Father. And we pray that Your peace and protection would wash over Sudanese Christians caught in the crossfire of these ongoing tensions. In the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, Amen.