Sudan (MNN) — Sudanese President
Omar al-Bashir may have called for a ceasefire in Darfur to persuade the
International Criminal Court not to pursue a war-crimes indictment.
"I hereby announce our
immediate unconditional ceasefire between the armed forces and warring factions,
provided that an effective monitoring mechanism be put into action and be
observed by all involved parties," said Beshir.
A spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued this statement:
"The Secretary-General welcomes President Omer al-Bashir's declaration of an
immediate ceasefire between the Government of the Sudan and the armed movements
in Darfur, as well as the intention by the Government of the Sudan to disarm
all the militias."
However, skeptics dismissed the
move as rhetoric and called it an obvious ploy. Todd Nettleton with
Voice of the Martyrs says that's why the call for peace
is getting a cautious and cool reception. "It sort of remains to be seen how far this is going to go, if
there will be a cease-fire, if peace will be restored and if the people who
have been displaced there can return to their homes. I think the world is saying, 'Okay, you've
said the right things; now let's see if the action follows the words.'"
United Nations officials say up
to 300,000 people have died, and more than 2.2 million others have fled their
homes since the Darfur conflict erupted in February 2003. Traditional ministry is too dangerous for
many agencies, but that doesn't mean the hope of Christ isn't present.
Nettleton says although they
don't have teams in Darfur, it is not too early for humanitarian aid ministries
who are there to consider their next step. "As the people receive the aid and say, 'Why are you here?' [The answer is] 'Well, I care about you because Jesus cares
about you.' That can be an incredible
window to be able to share the Gospel and open the door to the message of
Christ — the message of His love for the people of Darfur."
This seems to be another chapter
for a nation already faced with deadly conflict elsewhere. Originally, it was about control of land,
wealth and ethnicity, but it had a strong religious factor, too.
The Khartoum government is Muslim
and declared a jihad against the people of the south, who are predominantly
Christian or animist. Churches and Christian relief agencies were
specifically targeted for attack.
A formal peace accord was signed
on January 9, 2005, and a new constitution is being implemented. In 2011, the people will vote on whether or
not the South remains a part of Sudan. Keep praying
that the peace accord will stand and that Christians will be free to worship in
peace. Pray, too, that the ministries
already on the ground will have the resources they need to cultivate the