A former general secretary of the World Council of Churches has warned that tension in Sudan ahead of a plebiscite on independence for the south of Africa’s biggest country could spark mass killings similar to the Rwanda genocide in 1994.

The Rev. Samuel Kobia, who is a church-backed envoy to Sudan, said the security and human rights of southern Sudanese living in the north of the country are endangered, with intimidation and threats increasing ahead of the scheduled 9 January referendum.

“We know it is possible these people could easily be massacred, if Khartoum is not happy with the how the referendum will go,” Kobia, a Kenyan Methodist, told a press conference in Nairobi on 23 October, after a 10-day visit to the United States with senior Sudanese church leaders.

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