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Sudan Peace Agreement Welcomed by Major Aid Groups | January 11, 2005

"Peace is about more than a piece of paper it is about a process which must involve civil society organisations and communities."

An historical peace agreement was signed in Nairobi, Kenya, on Sunday 9th January between the country's main rebel group the Sudanese Peopleís Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Government of Sudan. It is expected to mark the ending of the 21 devastating years of war that claimed at least 1.5 million lives and displaced another four million people.

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While the local Africans rejoice with tears of happiness, major international aid agencies and humanitarian organisations which have been serving the troubled country for a number of decades all celebrated the long-waited victory over violence and evilness.

According to the Associated Press, around 2,000 people gathered at the Freedom Square in Rumbek and welcomed the peace deal on Sunday. "There were celebrations all over towns in southern Sudan," a UN official said.

This important step of signing a peace agreement is brought by the long term contribution of international communities and aid agencies such as the United Nations as well as the US and UK Government. Following the success of the collapse of the ceasefire between the Government of Uganda and the Lordís Resistance Army on 1 January 2005, the treaty has shed a beam of light over the future picture of a peaceful Africa.

Yet, a coalition of six major aid agencies has issued a statement, which called on the international community to ensure the fledgling peace deal is implemented.

The six agencies are CARE International, Christian Aid, International Rescue Committee, Oxfam International, Save the Children UK and Tearfund. They all have been working in Sudan for more than 20 years.

Christian Aid cited the UN Security Council Resolution 1574, saying that the follow-up after the signing of peace treaty includes appropriate international monitoring and swift action if the agreement is transgressed. It also suggested that the next six months are crucial.

The three areas of extensive support that needed to be provided by the international community are as follows, according to Christian Aid:

- the return and rehabilitation of refugees and displaced persons
- the disarmament and demobilisation and reintegration of soldiers and militias
- voluntary, safe and dignified return for over six million people displaced by years of conflict.

"The agreement offers Sudan the best hope yet for peace. For millions of displaced people it will signal the start of their journey home. It is the start of the process of healing for the hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who have borne the brunt of this cruel conflict," said Cynthia Gaigals, a spokesperson for the six agencies. Gaigals calls for a strong peacekeeping mission to be deployed quickly by the United Nations.

On the other hand, while many may have overlooked, the agencies reemphasised the underlying causes of Sudan's conflict, contributing to continued fighting in Darfur and tensions in the Beja area in east Sudan. Christian Aid pointed out the greatest threat to stability is from the separate clash in the Western province of Darfur, however it has not been taken into account in the peace deal.

Looking forward to the bright future in Sudan, Christian Aid suggested that long-term peace will only be achieved if the ordinary women, men and children of Sudan experience real change in their lives. Therefore, all citizens and organisations must be given the opportunity to participate in the future of their country.

Acuil Malith Bongul, the representative of Christian Aid partner Bahr El Ghazal Youth Development Agency, echoed, "Peace is about more than a piece of paper it is about a process which must involve civil society organisations and communities."

With a peace treaty in hand, Sudan's president Omar el-Bashir began a triumphant tour of his country, on Monday 10th January, greeted by 10,000 mainly Christian revellers.

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Posted by admin at January 11, 2005 12:10 PM


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