Jewish community leaders throughout the world reacted to the declaration South Sudan’s independence, its establishment officially coming into effect at midnight between Friday and Saturday last week.
The nascent African nation voted for independence in a referendum under the terms of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of war. The new state has its capital in Juba and was officially recognized on Friday by the government of Sudan, based in Khartoum, hours before the formal split took place.
American Jewish World Services expressed “deep concern” about the continuing violence in South Sudan, despite its president’s initial congratulatory remarks calling the independence of the country “a truly historic occasion”.
Ruth Messinger, President of AJWS, said in a statement Friday that “at this moment of celebration, we must also remain focused on the abhorrent violence that continues along the border and in Darfur.”
The AJWS president continued, reflecting on the continued aggression and violation of basic human rights that have been tolerated in Sudan, adding that such actions “repeat themselves with grave results”.
Messinger called on the international community to ensure there are consequences for those who have breached the Sudanese people’s rights and to create a support network for those who have been displaced or are in need of humanitarian aid.
“For years, communities across the United States and throughout the world have advocated on behalf of the people of Sudan,” Messinger said in her statement, recommitting to “continuing our work until there is a comprehensive peace”.
B’nai B’rith International commended South Sudan for its newly earned independence, welcoming it as the world’s 193rd country. The global Jewish organization called South Sudan’s emergence “a peaceful outgrowth of a political negotiating process years in the making.”
“The achievement of independence is truly noteworthy,” a B’nai B’rith statement said, adding that they hope South Sudan will “live up to democratic ideals and principles and that it will have good relations with fellow democracies around the world.”
The organization was hopeful for South Sudan’s people, extending “wishes of peace and prosperity to the fledgling nation”.
The American Jewish Committee lauded South Sudan’s newly established statehood, while cautioning about the difficult road ahead.
The AJC called on the international community to support South Sudan as it “pursues independence under daunting conditions”.
The American Jewish organization lamented the hardships the Sudanese people have undergone, commemorating the millions who have died and empathizing with those who have sought asylum elsewhere. The AJC reminded the public that the fledgling nation is also one of its poorest, with the threat of war looming.
The AJC called on the international community, led by the U.S. “to remain fully engaged as the country begins a new chapter".
The AJC’s director, Eliserio Neuman, visited Juba in 2007 to meet with senior government officials and members of the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement to identify state-building challenges in hopes of providing assistance to the struggling African nation.
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