“As we speak, people are dying”
Church deplores humanitarian disaster in South Sudan as tribal conflicts displace thousands of people
Montreal/Mundri, Wednesday November 11, 2015 – Catholic, Protestant and Islamic leaders of South Sudan claim that the people of the Mundri region who had fled heavy fighting are now forced to live in devastating conditions. These religious leaders made the claim in a dramatic appeal for help to the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
Thousands of human lives are threatened
“As we speak people are already dying, and in particular children and elderly people. During the past two months more than 80,000 people had been forced to live in the bush and the jungle in the area. Children and women are those most affected. They will be exposed to a variety of epidemics and to starvation if they don’t get help soon,” the religious leaders explained after visiting the crisis zone. Together, they called for an immediate cessation of all military operations in the Mundri region in order to ensure internal refugees might receive humanitarian supplies.
Father David Kulandai Samy of the of the Missionaries of Mary Immaculate (MMI),works in the affected region and also reached out to ACN for help. “Our parish people who have moved into bushes are facing untold misery; particularly children suffer without food, water and medical assistance. Community people’s standing crops have been destroyed and their assets were looted, including cattle,” said the priest, whose Community has served the people of the area since 2012 through pastoral and humanitarian work. He himself has only just managed to escape the fighting at the risk of his life. “With the Grace of God we had a narrow escape from gunfire and we thank God for having survived till today,” Father David said.
Tribal conflict in the region broke out in September of this year. According to Father David, nine warriors of the Dinka tribe were killed in September. Government troops then moved into the area and opened fire on members of the Moru tribe who in turn attacked members of the Dinka tribe resulting in ethnic unrest and numerous Catholic families forced to flee their homes. They had found refuge in church facilities, however they had also soon been drawn into the conflict by the army. Father David said that combat helicopters had been deployed. Many people had been killed and thousands had fled into the bush.
Rebuilding the scattered Catholic families
Father David has now asked Aid to the Church in Need to pray for the people. “We want to return as soon as the situation gets back to normal and work towards rebuilding the scattered Catholic families and other tribal communities. We would request you to pray for us and our community people, who are undergoing incalculable misery and hardship.”
ACN has been helping the Church in Sudan and South Sudan for many decades. In 2014 the pastoral charity supported projects in both countries to the tune of over 1.4 million dollars (CAN). In addition to its pastoral work ACN also provides emergency aid to assist the local Church in its work with refugees and others people affected by war.