On May 26, after 21 years of civil war, Sudans government and a major rebel group signed a peace agreement that could possibly lead to the end of that countrys persistent warfare.
While the peace agreements do not refer to the Dafur region of the country where the humanitarian aid need has risen from 1.2 to 2 million in recent weeks, many have called the tentative peace an answer to prayers.
"This is truly an answer to the fervent and frequent prayers of millions of Christians around the globe," said Carl Moeller, USA president of Open Doors. "Southern Sudan has deservedly earned a reputation of one of the most hostile places on earth for Christians. We need to continue to pray that the final details of the agreement will be put into place and a permanent peace will finally be realized."
The peace agreements also allow humanitarian groups the opportunity to freely enter the country and aid the victims.
The following is a gallery of pictures gathered in the last three years by Church World Service, Action of Churches Together and the World Food Program, that captures the past two decades of life for millions in Sudan.
Halimé Adams Jouma, 17, fled her home in Sudan with her four-year-old son. They left with the clothes on their backs and three aluminum bowls. With insecurity persisting in Darfur, more Sudanese are following in the tracks of Halime and her family. Copyright: 2004 © WFP/Nancy Palus
An elderly woman who managed to escape to safety from conflict in southern Sudan. The displaced people are in urgent need of assistance and protection. Photo: Nils Carstensen/Dans Church Aid, 6-14-02
WFP food distribution at the town of Bentiu for families who have fled fighting around their home villages. In the past two months, the numbers of displaced people seeking refuge in Bentiu as risen from 40,000 to 50,000. Copyright: 2001 - © WFP/Yaver Sayed
People who had been internally displaced arrived in Wau with stories of extreme hardship - many were starving when they first arrived in the city, having existed on wild fruit and herbs. Many people also died along the way. Members of the global alliance Action by Churches Together (ACT) International for several years through ACT appeals funded relief-related activities in camps that were set up to offer shelter to people made destitute by the war and the famine. These activities included health and medical support, food security and agricultural programs and projects related to transition from emergencies, which were implemented by Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and Sudan Council of Churches (SCC), both ACT members through local churches. Long after the appeals closed, and now with a fragile peace in place in at least southern Sudan (the Darfur region in the western part of the country is caught up in violence and conflict), many people are thinking of going home ... to start over and rebuild their lives. Hege Opseth NCA/ACT International
Eight year old Dan Yiey's entire world changed the day he saw his cousin and friend killed by gunfire from a gunship as they tried to flee towards the river. Dan Church Aid and Christian Aid staff came across the you boy near Nhialdin. Photo: Nils Carstensen/Dans Church Aid 6/14/02