By Clare Creegan
A project partner of Aid to the Church in Need has warned that the upsurge of fighting in South Sudan will see the humanitarian crisis affecting millions of civilians worsening.
One of the Catholic charity’s South Sudanese project partners, who cannot be named for security reasons, described how renewed violence in Juba has caused immense suffering and increased insecurity amongst its people.
Referring to calls from the governments of neighbouring countries Uganda and Kenya for their citizens to leave South Sudan, he said: “The way the various governments all over the world are panicking and acting shows that they fear that something terrible is still to happen. One can even hear that ‘the worst is still to come!’”
The religious Brother also described how the South Sudanese people were prohibited from leaving the country and were suffering from food shortages – but thanked ACN for their solidarity.
He said: “Let’s pray that the nightmare in Juba and all around the country is soon coming to an end.
“People just cannot stand this hell any longer. I am seeing people leaving Juba in big numbers, mostly to Uganda, whenever they find a possibility and when they can afford it.”
Through the church, 1,385 registered families – which numbered 7,183 displaced people – were able to receive support at St Paul’s Seminary campus in Juba.
The renewed fighting is a major setback for South Sudan’s peace process which had been troubled by ceasefire violations and localised outbreaks of violence since the peace agreement signed by rival leaders President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar in August 2015.
Tensions came to a head on July 7, following an attack in Juba close to where the President and Vice President were meeting.
Continued fighting is reported to have left more than 300 dead and the death toll is expected to rise as fears of a return to civil war increase.
Aid to the Church in Need is supporting ongoing projects in South Sudan including aid to help build a presbytery for the newly established parish in Barsherki in the Diocese of Wau.
In 2015 the charity also gave more than $950,000 to fund the Church’s pastoral work with refugees in South Sudan.
Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS); www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN) www.acnmalta.org (Malta)