2014 in particular has arguably been a year characterised by conflict.
The beginning of 2014 saw violence in South Sudan internally displacing an estimated 575,000 people and more than 100,000 fleeing to neighbouring countries. In addition to its relief response ACT came together with the All Africa Conference of Churches and the World Council of Churches to organise a high level church leaders’ solidarity visit to Juba, South Sudan, to assist in brokering peace between warring factions in the country. ACT General Secretary John Nduna, together with faith leaders and leaders of ecumenical organisations, took part in this solidarity visit. They met with key government officials, church leaders and members of the ACT forum in South Sudan to call for cessation of violence, particularly the attacks targeted at unarmed communities, and for increased humanitarian assistance to affected communities.
Violence across the world continued with military operations on Gaza in July, which, according to the United Nations (UN), killed more than 1,600 civilians, a third of whom were children. ACT led a multi-faith advocacy initiative of more than 10 faith-based organisations, which resulted in a joint statement condemning the violence in Syria and Iraq perpetuated by Islamic State. The initiative received broad media coverage and culminated in a statement orally presented to 47 member states at the UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva. In Gaza, following the renewed conflict in the region, ACT members engaged in human rights advocacy to call for an end to the violence, increased humanitarian access and investigation into human rights violations.
A further wave of displacement in Iraq was triggered in August by massacres and human rights abuses by Islamic State. Iraq now has more than 2.4 million internally displaced people (IDPs), one of the largest IDP populations in the world.
Speaking about the work of ACT Alliance in conflict situations with reference to an ACT-partnered programme in Sudan, General Secretary John Nduna said: “A bittersweet reminder of the long-term impact of such crises was evident on my visit to the now 10-year-old ACT-Caritas Darfur programme. This year alone it has seen an increase of 350,000 refugees. Speaking to people living in the camps, it was clear that the work of ACT-Caritas
is highly valued and very much still needed within the communities.”