- (Photo: AP Photo / File)
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has expressed his dismay over the disintegration of peace between Sudan and South Sudan. The two countries are on the brink of war with tensions reaching breaking point, less than a year since South Sudan seceded from the North.
South Sudan's secession followed a referendum on independence that marked the culmination of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended 20 years of brutal civil war.
It is locked in a dispute over the oil-rich region of Abyei that both Sudan and South Sudan lay claim to.
Archbishop Tutu said that he and other members of The Elders group of influential leaders had watched recent clashes along the border "with a heavy heart."
"The terrible lessons of war seem to have been forgotten already. Again we are seeing military solutions being pursued which can only lead to death, destruction and suffering," he said.
The Elders are calling for a return to the negotiating table by both sides in the conflict.
"We profoundly believe in meaningful dialogue as the only way forward for a peaceful, stable and prosperous future for Sudan and South Sudan," said Archbishop Tutu.
The Elders have warned of "catastrophic" humanitarian consequences if the military confrontation continues.
More than 100,000 people have been displaced from Abyei and neighboring areas. They are unable to return home because of the presence of armed forces.
In the Sudanese states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, an estimated 300,000 people have been prevented from planting crops because of fighting and bombings.
Food and water shortages are setting in, and with the arrival of the rainy season, the roads could soon be too impassable for aid deliveries.
Archbishop Tutu added: "Military escalation will only take Sudan and South Sudan backwards and undermine the development and peace that the people so desperately need and want."