(MNN) — The UN Secretary-General is trying to keep a lid on the simmering
tensions threatening all-out war again in Sudan.
Ki-Moon is calling on cooler heads to prevail over the conflict between Sudan
and newly-independent South Sudan. The world's
leaders echoed the United Nations' condemnation of Khartoum's bombings of a refugee camp in South
Sudan's Unity state–a charge Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir denies.
It's the first test of independence since South Sudan formally seceded
from Sudan in July following a successful independence referendum in January
that was guaranteed in a 2005 peace deal.
that festered are flaring into violence. Phil Byler with Africa Inland Mission says,
"The President of North Sudan is just a ruthless man who doesn't care who
he kills. Bombing the refugee camps in the South is an atrocity, in my
It may be that the war of words is now a step closer to a genuine
conflict. Satellite photos revealed last
week's strikes on refugee camps were just the beginning. It appears Sudan's
military is repairing and improving air bases in its Blue Nile state,
potentially allowing it to bring challenge over disputed borders with South Sudan.
both leaders of Khartoum and Juba are predicting the possibility of a new war
in an oil-rich region that has seen a spike in cross-border attacks. "The President of South Sudan is now
saying that war is a possibility. Up until this point, he has repeatedly said,
'We will not go to war again.' This is a
disturbing trend," says Byler.
It is disturbing,
but not alarming. "All of our missionaries, besides the
pilots, are well out of the area. Samaritan's Purse personnel were on the ground; our AIM-AIR pilots were in the air, and they mobilized an intense evacuation
force to deal with the bombing."
On November 9, SIM evacuated six team members from Doro base–the area in which the refugee camp was bombed last week by Sudan's military. The team was moved before the attack. They were
flown out of Doro and are in Nairobi until things settle down.
This not only presents a direct threat to these refugees of the
Nuba mountains and the Samaritan's Purse team, but a challenge for ministry and
aid teams. Byler says, "The
war activity along the border area disrupts life drastically. That's why there
are refugees. Consequently, the work of the church and the presentation of the
Gospel is disrupted as everybody goes into a survival mode."
AIR has been supporting the work of relief efforts that are helping to meet the
immediate needs of those who were displaced. They are providing critical
supplies and evacuation options to several other organizations in contested
regions between North and South Sudan.
be praying for the country of Sudan as a whole, that the Church would grow
strong in this turbulent time. "We're
alert and watchful," says Byler, "hoping and praying that the war
will not restart and/or spread throughout the region."
the tensions ignite, "Pray that in the providence and sovereignty of God,
He will spare the people of South Sudan from another war, Number One. Number Two, pray that even in the horrible things
that are happening localized in Sudan, God will make Himself known to the
people that are seeking Him."
also pray for safety for AIM AIR personnel and passengers as the team seeks to
serve those who are serving in these tense locations.