The head of the Sudan Council of Churches has called for the urgent resolution of the conflict in Darfur after two German aid workers became the latest victims of abduction in the region.
The Rev. Ramadan Chan Liol, the general secretary of the council, which includes Orthodox, Protestant and Roman Catholic churches, said the grouping denounces the continuing violence in Darfur. He warned it may complicate a referendum for the south scheduled for 2011.
“War in Darfur affects the peace in general. It will have an effect on the referendum in the south,” Chan told ENInews on June 22 from Khartoum. “Therefore, resolution of Darfur’s conflict is very necessary for a peaceful Sudan.”
The German aid workers, employed by Technisches Hilfswerk (THW), were kidnapped by gunmen on June 23 from a compound in Nyala, the capital of south Darfur at a time of increasing reports of abduction of aid workers and foreigners. The kidnappers are demanding ransom or using the hostages to make demands from authorities.
Chan said he was concerned about fresh fighting reported in the region, an area the size of France. On June 23 a clash between Sudanese army troops and the Justice for Equality rebel group resulted in the deaths of 50 people, according the Sudan Catholic Radio Network.
Two days before, three peacekeepers from joint United Nations-Africa Union mission from Rwanda were killed while guarding a new base under construction in west Darfur.
“The killing of the Rwandan peacekeepers is much regretted and we call on the government of Sudan to bring to justice the perpetrators,” said Chan.
Sudanese church leaders say they hope for the completion of the Darfur peace process before the referendum.
“Every effort should be made to ensure that a political agreement on the Darfur crisis is reached before the referendum of January 2011,” Djibril Bassole, the African Union–United Nations joint chief mediator, told the U.N. Security Council on June 14.
The U.N. estimates 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since rebels took up arms against the government in 2003. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur, charges he strongly denies.
Bashir’s government also denies arming Arab militias known as Janjaweed that displace black African communities from their homes.