JUBA, Sudan, FEB. 19, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Radio Bakhita, the first Christian radio station in Sudan, looks to expand its facilities to accommodate the political and sociological demands foreseen in the coming years.

The radio station was started in December 2006, on the occasion of the canonization of Daniel Comboni, the first Catholic bishop in Sudan.

It is located in the country's capital, Juba, and is headed by a Mexican Comboni missionary, Sister Cecilia Sierra. The missionaries started the station, but are currently training Sudanese people to take over the responsibilities of its operation.

A statement on the Comboni missionarys' Web site expressed the need for larger facilities faced to the coming challenges.

It read: "Given the high rates of illiteracy, the devastation of public structures and the precarious communications system, FM radio stations are most effective for disseminating information and educating the people about issues that concern them."

The country has been through difficult times, it said, but this year a greater challenge will arise as Southern Sudan, predominantly Christian, will vote for the first time in its history.

As well, in 2011, South Sudan will decide if it wants to be united to the North -- predominantly Muslim and Arab -- or to declare itself an independent nation.

The statement about the radio station affirmed its mission to promote enduring peace and development and to counteract violence. It recognized that Sudan has lived the past 50 years in internal wars that have left deep wounds, and the primary work of the Church in the postwar stage is to be an instrument of reconciliation and healing.

Other radio stations will be launched soon, as part of a network with Radio Bakhita, to meet the sociological needs of the people.

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On the Net:

Comboni Missionaries: http://www.comboniane.org/home.asp?l=EN