Sudan is so central to the region that I come from. Peace in Sudan is important for Kenya, Uganda, and to all 9 countries surrounding Sudan. My own country, Uganda, has been directly impacted since the Sudanese war began in 1955. Whenever our neighbors suffer violence and instability we feel it too.
We shouldn’t look at peace in Sudan in terms of just the north and the south. We should look it as something that impacts the whole region. When you bring peace to one country it has the ripple effect of freeing people up enough to tackle the problems in Eastern Africa. A peaceful Sudan opens up opportunities for us all in trade, education, and development.
It wasn’t until the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed in Sudan in 2005 that the road for peace in my country was paved. The CPA brought much needed peace to Sudan. After a half-century of warfare people set down their weapons. When a people no longer have to focus on simply surviving and constantly looking over their shoulder, they can accomplish remarkable things. Through the years many southern Sudanese sought refuge in Uganda. They were my classmates, my neighbors and my friends. They lived with us the sadness of northern Uganda. They took that with them when they returned to Sudan.
Soon after the CPA was enacted the Government of Southern Sudan was finally free enough to broker peace in other parts of Africa. At that point violence had been ravaging northern Uganda for two decades. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) had spread fear and chaos throughout the region. Many other countries had tried to facilitate peace but failed.
The Government of Southern Sudan made peace in Uganda their top diplomatic priority. They hosted the negotiation process and helped put an end to a civil war that had taken hundreds of thousands of lives. After 20 years, peace came to my country. Without the CPA northern Uganda would still be on fire. It is very sad to see that Southern Sudan is now suffering the brunt of LRA attacks. But with determination even this can be addressed and indeed the churches from Sudan and the region are making efforts as we speak.
I went to northern Uganda last year. Whereas before you couldn’t visit without a military escort, these days everywhere you look you see the peace. Life is returning to the region—hotels are being built and camps for the internally displaced are being dissolved. It’s incredible. People need to understand that peace in Sudan will impact us all.
Paul Nantulya is a CRS regional technical advisor for Sudan Peacebuilding. He is based out of Nairobi, Kenya.
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