Sudan (MNN) — Recent fighting in
Sudan threatens to unravel efforts at a lasting peace. The flashpoint is the
disputed border region of Abyei.
Matt Parker, Vice President of Operations for Kids Alive
International, says, "[Abyei] is an area that's disputed. North Sudan
feels that it should be part of the North, and the South feels that it should
be part of the South. There was supposed to be a referendum there in January, but
that was postponed indefinitely."
Parker goes on to explain,
"There's been a simmering tension there. It's an area that is rich in oil, but at
the same time, a lot of the issues are tribal issues."
A 2005 peace agreement mandated a
similar referendum in oil-rich Abyei, but the referendum was never held. The violence is leading to a humanitarian
disaster that puts thousands of lives at risk. "A lot of those have moved down into Southern
Sudan, so this is putting increasing pressure on an area where already there
are so many people flooding in from the North,"
says Parker. He notes that the influx is uncomfortably stretching
infrastructure, food resources and
There are fears that the violence could spark
more trouble. However, South Sudan's leader has said he will not go into civil
war over the disputed region of Abyei. Nobody
knows what will happen to the southerners living in
Khartoum and the surrounding districts once the separation of
North and South takes place on July 9.
As the war of words
between North and South escalates to fever pitch, Parker says the situation is
having a direct impact on their ministry. "Kids Alive has ministries in
the North and South of the country. In
the North, with so many Southerners leaving the North for the South, we're not
quite sure how long we're going to be able to continue working."
The numbers of children in the programs
in Khartoum have decreased over the past two months as many families are
repatriated to South Sudan, and it is still unclear exactly how many children
will remain following the separation. However, their team is committed to the
children they help. "We have a
desire to be serving the street children that we work with there. There are kids there who urgently need our
help, who would be back on the streets if we had to close our doors."
What is clear is that with the
latest series of clashes, the Kids Alive staff needs prayer. Parker says, "These sorts of situations give
the opportunity to share the love of Christ with the kids that we work with,
where there is so much fear, so much tension. It is an opportunity for our staff to share with the kids that despite
all that's going on around them, they do have a heavenly Father who loves them and cares for them."
Pray for peace, especially as the separation approaches. Pray for the Kids Alive projects in Sudan and
for the safety of the children cared for by their staff. Pray for wisdom for field leadership and staff,
as they manage a difficult and uncertain situation, and for their ministry in
South Sudan as it prepares to expand and help more children.