He provided further details about the two-day meeting during the January 23 interview with ACI Africa correspondent saying, “from the actual work that the network is doing, we have formed two halves, we have a half for Europe and North America, we have a half for Africa. We have identified which agency is leading those halves; we have identified how the members of those halves will communicate with each other; we have identified who is the focal person here in the Council (SSCC), and that of course is the advocacy officer.”
Ashworth continued, “The international partners have also identified the sorts of things their government are so interested in. And they have identified certain opportunities that they will have to take our message.”
“We can take our messages to this endeavour and we can share our messages with activists from all over Africa,” the Kenya-based English-born Catholic missionary said and added in reference to the initiative of advocating for South Sudan peace across countries, “it is a way of spreading messages, a way of spreading public opinions, it is a way of changing a narrative which is what advocacy is all about.”
Referencing the engagement of all members of ENSS following the Juba meeting, Ashworth who has worked with Churches in Sudan and South Sudan for the last 37 years said, “This is an opportunity for us because we can take messages from the South Sudan Churches about peace in South Sudan, a country where oil is of the whole mixed.”
According to SSCC Secretary General, South Sudanese Fr. James Oyet Latansio who was part of the two-day ENSS forum, issues around the oil sector were discussed, including initiative to “support justice and reparation for those affected by oil exploration, and support the court case against Lundin in Sweden.”
Further, in its working document titled Reflections of the Ecumenical Network South Sudan, ENSS members encouraged SSCC and partners to reach out to parties of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) in view of influencing “decision making around sticky issues of the deadlock,” Fr. Oyet told ACI Africa correspondent in an interview January 23.
ENSS meeting also recommended that SSCC and partners “conduct evidence-based and verification of the information in the cantonment sites/military barracks and training centres.”
Other areas in the ENSS document, Fr. Oyet said, highlight the need for humanitarian support for the suffering people of South Sudan, developing the Church position on the issue of states after a consultation process of the people of South Sudan, as well as facilitating an Action Plan for Peace strategy for sustainable peace in the world’s newest nation.
Meanwhile, Isaac Kenyi, an official with the Juba-based South Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat who was also part of ENSS forum told ACI Africa in an interview that “the most important takeaway from that meeting is the revitalization of the network itself.”
“We are reviving the old network but in a new format. This coming together was like renewing or recommitment of partners to this ecumenical network,” Kenyi said.