Archbishop seeks end to 'desperate' suffering of Sudanese people

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THE ARCHBISHOP of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, yesterday concluded his controversial visit to southern Sudan, which he called 'the longest four days of my life', with a peace-making call on the two leaders of rival factions of the Sudanese People's Liberation Army, which is fighting the government in Khartoum.

But the Archbishop told a news conference that he still wanted to visit Khartoum and had maintained contact with the Islamic regime. 'The south is not fighting a religious war,' Dr Carey said in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. 'I met Muslims who feel themselves victims of war as much as Christians. However, southerners I met are not willing to accept the forcible imposition of religion or religious codes of law.'

He went on: 'The people have no social structure left except the Church. The church leaders are heroic apostles of the Gospel, bravely standing up for human rights, They need strong international commitment. What has moved me most has been the strength of people's faith, coupled with the desperation of their plight.

'I have seen harrowing sights: people have begged me for help, for peace, for food . . . but above all for the world to notice them. They feel forgotten. They will always remain in my heart. In all their suffering they cling to Christ. If there is crucifixion in the Sudan, there is also undeniable resurrection.'

Dr Carey was to have visited the north after his trip to the south, but the visit was cancelled at the last minute.

The Archbishop claimed the Sudanese government was putting unacceptable limitations on his freedom to go where he wished and meet whom he wanted; the government maintained the Archbishop had insisted on staying at the British Embassy rather than as a guest of the Anglican church of Sudan.

The Khartoum government subsequently expelled the British ambassador, Peter Streams, a decision which the Archbishop described as 'a completely over the top and unnecessary reaction'.

He added: 'The Sudanese people have lost a good friend.'

Letters, page 13

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Danger zones, page 15