Sudan Bishop Pleads for Outside Help

Details Attacks on Churches, Eucharist, Christians

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YAMBIO, Sudan, SEPT. 18, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Some 20,000 Christians walked bare foot over two miles of South Sudan this month in silent, sacrificial protest of the government’s inability or unwillingness to protect the region from tribal conflicts bringing bloodshed.

The three-day prayer-protest was called by Bishop Edward Hiiboro Kussala of Tombura-Yambio, who said that the event gathered more than twice the number he expected.

The bishop told of the prayer meeting to Aid to the Church in Need, an international charity organization dedicated to persecuted and oppressed Christians. Sudan is the organization’s priority in Africa.

The Christians walked in protest of a series of deadly and gruesome attacks in August.

A gang from the Lord’s Resistance Army stormed into Our Lady Queen of Peace church and desecrated the building before abducting 17 people mostly in their teens and 20s.

Shortly afterward, one of the kidnapped men was found dead, tied to a tree and mutilated.

Of the 17 who disappeared, three returned the following day; the rest are unaccounted for.

A week after that attack, six people were ambushed in a forest and nailed to pieces of wood fastened to the ground. Those who discovered the bodies several days later likened it to a grotesque crucifixion scene.

Meanwhile, reports came in of 12 more people abducted in another nearby village.

Bishop Hiiboro told Aid to the Church in Need why he is appealing for international aid: «The government here cannot make a real difference to the [Lord’s Resistance Army] problem. They kept promising that they had the issue under control but now we see the reality. […]

«What happened in August was a huge shock to us. It was hard to take in the fact that we were so exposed to such a risk.

«Afterwards people kept coming to me with such suffering in their eyes, begging me to do something about the situation — to get back their children and grandchildren who have disappeared.»

The bishop explained that the three days of prayer and pilgrimage were focused on «coming to terms with what has happened in [the state of] Western Equatoria and renewing our spiritual life. We wanted to make a silent protest to tell the government that things weren’t going well.»

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