Holy See: Settling Refugees at Top of South Sudan's Needs List

Delegation at UN Echoes Pope’s Best Wishes

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NEW YORK, JULY 15, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Archbishop Francis Chullikatt was representing the Holy See at the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday when South Sudan was acclaimed the body’s 193rd member state.

The prelate, who is the Holy See’s permanent observer at the United Nations, echoed Benedict XVI’s best wishes for the new country, which officially gained independence last Saturday.

A Vatican delegation was in Juba, the new capital, for that event.

A statement Thursday from the Holy See’s permanent observer mission at the U.N. noted the long «to do» list facing the new nation.

«The most urgent need of the new state is settling the refugees, migrants and internally displaced citizens moving from other parts of the country, estimated to be around 300,000,» the declaration stated.

It went on to mention other issues facing the precarious stability of South Sudan: the question of security for the lives and property of the citizens, keeping up good relations with neighboring countries, improving health standards, especially of those suffering from HIV/AIDS and other diseases, reinforcing the educational institutions and organizing a developmental agenda for the reconstruction of the whole country.

The statement noted how the local and universal Church are active in South Sudan, in providing humanitarian assistance, and in nurturing national reconciliation.

«From the very beginning Church leaders were active in the peace process and, during the 1993 visit of Blessed John Paul II, the Pope decried the violence in the country and called for a constitutional solution for the conflict,» the statement recalled.

«The path from civil war to democracy needs to be well disciplined and based on justice and truth,» the observer mission stated. «The long journey that has cost the lives of people, long sufferings, poverty and humiliations can become a walk of peace, liberty and development. The Church is engaged in underlining the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation, which are essential for durable peace, important not only for the new nation but also for the entire region.»

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