On July 9, South Sudan celebrates its 4th anniversary. Earlier this year Father John Opi Severino paid a visit to the Netherlands and Germany to highlight the situation in South Sudan, a country embroiled in a bitter civil war. On that occasion PAX peace movement and the Council of Churches in the Netherlands handed him a Dove of Peace.
In his homeland Father John Opi works as the coordinator of justice and peace in the Roman Catholic diocese of Torit. He is involved, for example, in peace dialogue, reconciliation and trauma healing. The Dove of Peace is an encouragement for the work performed by churches in South Sudan, which focuses on dialogue and reconciliation, with which individuals and church communities in the Netherlands demonstrate their solidarity.
In May the cleric travelled on to Berlin to participate in Common Effort 2015, a civil-military consultation on planning peace missions, along with civil society organisations and diplomats from the Netherlands and Germany, a representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and military personnel. Together with Father John Opi, PAX made a plea for consultation with the population and church leaders when planning and implementing peace missions. The protection of citizens and human security must represent the decisive factors in this respect.
As one of the keynote speakers, former minister Jan Pronk also stressed that when planning a peace mission we mustn’t assume that nothing is being done in South Sudan, but examine how we can link up with existing initiatives as effectively as possible. The UNMISS peace mission is currently underway in South Sudan.
Since December 2013, South Sudan had been embroiled in a bitter civil war. Peace discussions have achieved little success to date. Local peace dialogue and work focusing on reconciliation and healing are of great importance in preventing all the states in South Sudan from being dragged into this terrible civil war.
Read the statement issued by the South Sudanese churches on 26 May 2015 about the deteriorating situation in their country.
Also read the call issued by the youngest members of the South Sudanese churches on 26 March.