Juba, South Sudan, Jan 4, 2014 / 15:57 pm
Christian leaders in South Sudan have responded to new violence with a call for peace and reconciliation, urging their countrymen to reject efforts to sow division along ethnic lines.
"This should not be turned into an ethnic problem. Sadly, on the ground it is developing into tribalism. This must be defused urgently before it spreads," church leaders in Juba said in a Dec. 17 message, according to Aid to the Church in Need.
The South Sudan Council of Churches, an interdenominational Christian group, on Dec. 18 similarly warned that despite reports of ethnic violence, the conflict should not be considered an ethnic conflict at its root. They implored the Dinka and Nuer communities not to see each other as enemies.
"We are concerned about the reports of abuse, harassment and killing of individual citizens based on their ethnic affiliation," the churches' council said. "These are happening and witnessed for the last three days. Soldiers are asking civilians to identify themselves by tribes and we cannot accept to be identified by our tribes as we are all South Sudanese. We condemn such acts of abuse and hope that no more human lives should be lost."