For security reasons the Pope had to cancel is trip to South Sudan, which had been slated for October. To show his support for the suffering people of the world’s newest nation he arranged for a grant of $500,000 in famine relief in South Sudan, the majority of whose citizens are Christians. Those refugees who end up in Sudan face a particular form of humiliation and hardship—Christian children are forced to recite Islamic prayers before receiving food. Aid to the Church in Need reports:
In Sudan, Christian refugee children are forced recite Islamic prayer before being fed
By Murcadha O’Flaherty and John Pontifex
CHRISTIAN CHILDREN in Sudan’s refugee camps are not given food unless they say Islamic prayers, according to reports from reliable sources.
A contact, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons, described to international papal charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) how Christian refugees from South Sudan are confronted with “a terrible situation” in refugee camps in Sudan.
The source told ACN: “We have heard stories where children are conditioned to say Islamic prayers before [being] given food. This is not right. These children are Christian. They should be respected as such.”
The source, who estimates that some 700,000 South Sudanese Christians are refugees in Sudan, added: “The majority are left in camps, some in terrible conditions. They are confined in those places. They are not allowed to go further north to the cities.”
ACN also received reports that it is hard for refugee families to survive on food provided by the government. A monthly food parcel for a family lasts little more than two weeks. Parents are forced to purchase provisions in the local market where food items are sold that still bear wrapping bearing the UNICEF or UNHCR logos—provisions that obviously should be distributed for free.
The source went on to say that the Khartoum government has hampered charities seeking to provide emergency assistance. He said: “We have heard that the government does not allow any other agencies to give support, including the Church agencies.
The Sudanese “government knows very well that the Church is the one organization in the world that supports the needy around the world. The Muslim community has a charity, so the Christians have a charity, which should be allowed to help Christians.”
Referring to visits to displaced families in South Sudan, the source said: “I tell them I was once a refugee like you – that was not the end of the road… yet still I can now contribute something positive to society.”
The source’s comments come amid reports of increasing persecution of Christians in Sudan, with the regime reportedly intensifying its agenda of Islamization. Earlier, another source—who also requested anonymity—told us that “Churches [in Sudan] are destroyed but it’s claimed to be just part of town planning. The Church is not allowed to buy property.”
Sudan Church source told ACN furthermore that: “Churches are being torn down each month – you never hear that about mosques.” Reportedly, Church leaders are increasingly concerned about Sudan’s intolerance aimed at Christian women.
The Church official told us that in June 2015, 12 Christian women were arrested as they left a church for wearing trousers or skirts, which were seen as “indecent or immoral forms of dress.”