This Wednesday, when Villanova University squares off against Seton Hall, you can expect another competitive Big East Conference basketball game. This game will differ from others in that it will seek to build support for peace in Sudan.
Villanova and Seton Hall are partnering with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in "Playing for Peace" to help bring an end to conflict, hunger, and suffering in Sudan and South Sudan. Sudan and South Sudan fought a decades-long civil war that ended in 2005 with a peace agreement. However, violence has continued and the agreement has not been fully implemented.
Peace activism will take place throughout the game. Students will be handed a flyer showing how they can help by contacting the White House and urging the administration to support the peace process.
South Sudan became the world's newest country last July, gaining independence from Sudan. However, peace in the region remains elusive as conflict and border tensions continue. It is critical that UN peacekeeping missions be supported and fully funded to protect civilians and help establish conditions to build lasting peace and development.
A peacekeeping mission called UNISFA was deployed to Abyei, which is a disputed territory on the border between Sudan and South Sudan. This oil-rich region is claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan, and fighting has taken place there for years despite the 2005 agreement. UNISFA is there to make sure the area is demilitarized and made safe for civilians.
The threats go beyond the guns. Hunger and poverty still dominate the countryside. Drought often harms food production efforts, and malnutrition is a major threat to children. Displacement from conflict makes this situation even more desperate. Conflict exists not only between South Sudan and Sudan, but also between rival tribes.
A United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) truck approaches Boma village in South Sudan's Jonglei state, where ethnic violence has displaced thousands of people. On Thursday (Jan 5), WFP and partners gave out food rations to nearly 500 people in Boma and were set to continue the following day. (WFP/Rehan Zahid)