Nigerian Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyaken has joined African religious leaders to demand quick implementation of the latest peace agreement on South Sudan, which the government and rebel groups signed last year.
The pact -- known as the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan -- ended a full-blown conflict that ignited in 2013 as a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his deputy-turned-rebel-leader, Riek Machar.
Members of the African Council of Religious Leaders said while the pact has reduced violence in the country, they were concerned about a humanitarian crisis that has resulted in the deaths of thousands and which continues to leave millions of men, women and children in urgent need food and shelter. Cardinal Onaiyekan and the Ugandan Supreme Muslim leader, Sheikh Ramadhan Shaban Mubaje, co-chair the council.
"We are further troubled by the increasing criminal acts, human rights violations and political intolerance in several locations in South Sudan," said the council statement, released at a news conference in Nairobi Sept. 12.
The council said the South Sudanese humanitarian crisis can be resolved only if political leaders embrace true peace and love their people and the nation.
"South Sudanese leaders have a moral obligation to their citizens to end the violence and ensure continued progress toward peace, stability and justice," said the council.
Nov. 12 is the deadline for the implementation of the pact, but the religious leaders said they fear the target may not be met.
"The failure to implement the agreement risks the country collapsing back into war and destruction and exacerbates the misery and hopelessness of the millions of South Sudanese forced to flee their homes because of war, including the almost 3 million refugees living in neighboring countries," the religious leaders said.