Catholic Bishops of Sudan and South Sudan, in a pastoral letter, have said that the suffering and misery caused by “insecurity and wars” must end. “People are hurting beyond bearable proportions. This unacceptable situation cannot go on forever,” they said in a statement after meeting in Rome last month.
The conflict that erupted in South Sudan two years ago, according to the UN, has left 6.4million people in need of emergency aid, 1.7 million people without homes to return to, and more than 640,000 South Sudanese living as refugees in neighboring countries.
In August 2015 a peace agreement was signed between the government and opposition, the Catholic Bishops welcomed this as a sign of hope, however, they have expressed their grave concern that the peace agreement isn’t being honoured by both sides, and steps towards a true government of National Unity are faltering.
“Although we are still optimistic that the August peace agreement will be timely implemented, we are concerned that some people, both in the government and the opposition are working to spoil the implementation of the agreement.
“There is no one in his right mind who can continue to sustain that war can be the answer to grievances. We have tried war many times before and it did not solve anything.”
The conflict has led to price inflation of basic foods in the market place, making it harder for vulnerable families to survive. The UN estimates that the 4.6 million people already struggling to feed themselves, is set to peak during the coming lean season, between April and July, when food availability is at its lowest.
Country Representative for CAFOD and Trocaire in South Sudan, Francis Flood, said: “South Sudan is still in the grip of a humanitarian crisis with families unable to find enough food to eat.
“Despite all that has transpired, the leaders of South Sudan need to remember the people who are enduring dire conditions as a result of this conflict.
“Only a sustainable and lasting peace will give people the security they need to return to their homes and fields, and begin to rebuild their lives.”
The Catholic Bishops also called on the leaders to put the interest of the people first, and concluded that the Church will continue its work of peace building in communities. We still trust that this time you will put the interests of our beloved nation ahead of personal interests. With other Christian Churches we will spearhead the work of forgiveness and reconciliation. This is a crucial part of nation-building.”
CAFOD and Trócaire both have a long history of working in South Sudan through church and non-church partners who support vulnerable people in communities, providing food, water and sanitation and supporting communities to earn a living through better farming methods.