World Evangelical Alliance Welcomes Ceasefire Agreements in Darfur

The World Evangelical Alliance has applauded the agreement reached this week by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to cease all hostilities between the Khartoum government and rebel groups for 60 days as they work towards a durable end to the conflict in Darfur.

"We applaud this significant step toward peace in Darfur," said Geoff Tunnicliffe, the International Director of the World Evangelical Alliance. "We truly hope this process will lead to end the suffering of the people in Darfur."

The ceasefire was one of several agreements made during talks between Richardson and al-Bashir in Khartoum on Wednesday.

Richardson traveled to Sudan at the invitation of the Save Darfur Coalition, the leading U.S.-based Darfur peace advocacy organization of which WEA is a member.

There was positive movement on a number of issues, most notably the agreement to a ceasefire between the government and rebel groups that will immediately save lives.

The agreement also creates an improved environment for a political settlement, based on the Darfur Peace Agreement, to move forward.

There has been a deteriorating situation on the ground in recent weeks, clearly demonstrating an urgent need for increased international diplomacy and action," said Lawrence Rossin, the Save Darfur Senior International Coordinator Ambassador who accompanied Richardson to Sudan.

Other agreements during the talks included concessions to improve humanitarian aid and media access to Darfur and ensuring a "zero tolerance" policy for gender-based violence in Darfur.

The groups also pressed for Sudan's cooperation to work with the African Union and United Nations on the deployment of a hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur.

Tunnicliffe, who spoke at the nation's largest Darfur peace rally in Washington last year, expressed hopes that al-Bashir and rebel leaders will uphold the commitments they agreed to in the coming days.

"We have seen promises made before. We will continue to be vigilant in praying and advocating for and end to the genocide," concluded Tunnicliffe.