South Kordofan Undermining South Sudan Peace

Aid Group Notes Targeting of Christians

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LONDON, JULY 18, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Bombing continues in the border region between Sudan and South Sudan, and the situation is threatening the peace of the world's youngest nation.

The U.K. director of the international charity Aid to the Church in Need is urging an immediate response to reports that thousands of civilians are still under attack in South Kordofan, in violence that has also targeted churches.

According to U.N. figures, more than 70,000 people have fled their homes as a result of the fighting and tens of thousands of civilians are hiding in the Nuba Mountains following bombing runs by fighter jets over South Kordofan -- most recently July 11, the aid group reported.

U.N. officials also have noted churches being targeted.

Kyrke-Smith observed how "any attacks at this sensitive time will undermine the fragile peace and we are concerned for all those who are being targeted in these appalling attacks."

"A significant number of the Nuba are Christians and these specific attacks on churches will be felt by Christian communities across both Sudan and the new South Sudan," he added.

His comments follow questions raised in the U.K. Parliament last week by Lord Alton of Liverpool about what steps the British government is taking to ensure protection and humanitarian assistance for individuals caught up in fighting in the disputed border regions.

Kyrke-Smith continued: "What we fear we are witnessing is a return to a conflict which we hoped was history -- when Christians and other religious minorities were targeted by the Islamist government of the north during the terrible civil war.

"It is vital that the international community brings all sides to the negotiating table as soon as possible to broker a lasting peace."