Church in South Sudan urges for plans to resettle refugees from Sudan
By Lisa Zengarini
As the internal war in Sudan continues to ravage the country unabated and displacement numbers continue to rise, with humanitarian aid hampered by insecurity and funding shortcomings, Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin Mula of Juba has reiterated his appeal to various dioceses in South Sudan to set up emergency centres for resettling refugees and returnees.
He made the appeal this week during the South Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Provincial Council forum which ended on Friday, 30 June, in the South Sudanese capital.
Archbishop Ameyu said that people fleeing the crisis in Sudan ought to be given special consideration to settle in the country, while encouraging Church organizations to continue helping in the humanitarian emergencies.
“It is not easy but you are managing it, the humanitarian situation in South Sudan has not peaked but is accelerating, I encourage you to continue to help in the emergency we have,” said the archbishop cited by Catholic Radio Network.
Sudan descended into chaos back in April 15. Since then, the country has been enduring violent armed clashes between Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), loyal to the de facto president General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by his deputy General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, which have left over 3,000 people dead and thousands of others injured.
Fighting has extended to conflict-ridden Darfur particularly in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, and more recently to the Southern states of South Kordofan and the Blue Nile, where the split faction of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) has resumed attacks against the Sudanese army.
2.5 million displaced
The UNCHR estimates that, so far, some 2.5 million people have been displaced by the violence inside and outside of Sudan, and over 137,000 people have arrived in South Sudan as of June 27, 2023.
More than 16,000 refugees and asylum-seekers have crossed into Ethiopia and a total of 159,060 Sudanese refugees have arrived in Chad. An estimated 15,335 persons have also arrived in the Central African Republic (CAR).
Peace and reconciliation a priority also for South Sudan
In light of the realities of war in Sudan, Archbishop Ameyu also called on Church leaders to step up their efforts in peacebuilding and reconciliation in South Sudan, where local skirmishes and communal violence continue to threaten the long-drawn and fragile peace process started in 2018.
“Let us make peace and reconciliation our priorities”, he said, further urging all religious leaders to take the lead the implementation of the ecumenical messages left by Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Reverend Iain Greenshields during their historic joint visit to the country in February 2023.
“We stand on the crossroad of implementing the ecumenical messages left by our visitors, especially Pope Francis”, he said.
In his address, Archbishop Ameyu also applauded the NGOs and solidarity groups operating in South Sudan for their commitment to work in the country.