[Anglican Communion News Service] UK Parliamentary recommendations on the Church’s role in education and peacebuilding have been welcomed by Anglican Alliance partners in the UK and South Sudan.
The recommendations come in the report from the UK Parliament’s International Development Select Committee who held an inquiry into prospects for peace and development in the world’s newest country. The Anglican Alliance brought together the Episcopal Church of Sudan, the Diocese of Salisbury and Lambeth Palace to provide evidence to the inquiry.
Rebecca Coleman, representing the Episcopal Church of Sudan, and Canon Ian Woodward of the Diocese of Salisbury, gave oral evidence to the Select Committee, focusing especially on the church’s education services in South Sudan, and the role played by the Church, in particular by Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak, in peace-building.
The Select Committee report, which comes against a background of renewed and growing conflict between Sudan and South Sudan, concludes:
· The committee was deeply concerned at the prospect of a humanitarian crisis given the loss of South Sudan’s oil revenue, the increasing number of returnees and refugees and continuing inter-tribal violence.
· The decision by the Government of South Sudan (GRSS) to halt production on all its oilfields, risked an economic crisis. The committee called on the UK Government to continue to press Khartoum and Juba for a sustainable agreement on the export of oil through Sudan’s pipelines.
· Extra support was needed for the increasing number of refugees and internally displaced people, and continued and better co-ordinated donor investment in education and health was needed for South Sudan to develop.
· The joint office of the Department for International Development and Foreign and Commonwealth Office, under DFID leadership, in South Sudan was a model for other UK involvement countries where development is central to UK foreign policy.
· There was some concern that DFID’s decision to fund the United Nations rather than the Episcopal Church of Sudan to deliver its school construction programme misses an opportunity to support local capacity building.
· South Sudan must receive a fair share of the new funding to tackle tropical diseases in the developing world, and the report welcomed the DFID priority on women and girls.
· South Sudan’s commitment of 40 per cent of its budget to defence was unsustainable and DFID should seek to reduce this.
· DFID should support measures to build capacity in South Sudan, in service provision , agriculture, economic development, and the growth of the private sector.
· The committee said DFID “must not disregard the constructive role that the Sudan Council of Churches can play” in peacebuilding.
Alliance Director Sally Keeble said: “This report must be seen against the backdrop of the continuing insecurity in South Sudan. It provides powerful and welcome evidence of the role of the Church in peace-building and education. Rebecca Coleman and Canon Woodward gave persuasive evidence to the select committee which has accepted their key witness of the importance of the Church’s role in South Sudan.
“The submission of written and oral evidence by partners in the UK and Sudan also demonstrated how effective Anglicans can be in co-ordinated advocacy across the Communion.