The charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has issued a warning regarding the safety of churches and Christian institutions in Sudan.
They express concerns that these places of worship may face further attacks, following the recent destruction of the largest church in the country by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF).
The church in question, serving both the Episcopal and Evangelical denominations, had a rich history dating back to the early 1900s. Situated in Omdurman, it held the honor of being the second oldest church in the area, right after the Coptic Church.
It’s important to note that many buildings belonging to the Evangelical Church in the surrounding vicinity had previously been confiscated under the rule of Omar al-Bashir, who governed the country until his ousting in a coup in 2019.
This recent wave of destruction is deeply troubling. Just last Friday, an attack resulted in injuries to five nuns and several children when a building owned by the Comboni Catholic missionary order in Khartoum El-Shajara was bombed. This incident follows similar bombings that occurred roughly three weeks ago, targeting the Evangelical Commercial School and the Evangelical Secondary School, both located in Omdurman.
CSW sources strongly believe that these attacks on churches are intentional and that further destruction may be on the horizon. This grim situation unfolds as the SAF and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) engage in negotiations for a ceasefire in Saudi Arabia. The charity emphasizes that the land, once the buildings have been destroyed, becomes an easier target for seizure.
The conflict between the RSF and SAF began in April, sparked by a merger that was supposed to take place as part of an internationally supported framework agreement for a transition to democracy. Since then, CSW reports that the conflict has resulted in the loss of hundreds of civilian lives. Furthermore, there are numerous reports of horrifying acts, including sexual violence, looting, occupation of homes and public buildings, summary executions, mass graves, and the burning of villages.
Mervyn Thomas, Founder President of CSW, expressed their strong condemnation of the recent attacks, saying, “CSW condemns in the strongest terms the attacks on churches and their properties in Omdurman and Khartoum El-Shajara. We wish the injured a swift and full recovery, and reiterate that the intentional targeting of places of worship not only violates international humanitarian law but also constitutes a war crime. We continue to call for a full and comprehensive ceasefire, and urge the international community to hold both warring parties accountable for the violations and abuses they have committed against Sudanese citizens, both during this conflict and before it.”
The situation in Sudan remains volatile, with churches and Christian institutions in grave danger. CSW’s warning underscores the urgency of addressing this issue and seeking a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict. The destruction of these sacred places not only violates international law but also strikes at the heart of the religious and cultural heritage of the people in Sudan.
As efforts to negotiate a ceasefire continue, the international community’s attention and commitment to holding the responsible parties accountable are crucial steps towards safeguarding the lives and properties of the Sudanese citizens caught in the crossfire of this devastating conflict.