AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - Upper Nile: More than six thousand people forced to flee after the assault on the Aburoch reception camp

Tuesday, 6 December 2022 displaced persons   armed groups   missionaries   pope francis  

Juba (Agenzia Fides) - "Here the fighting is very heavy and it is difficult to see the light of peace", explains to Fides Sr. Elena Balatti, Comboni missionary in charge of Caritas in the diocese of Malakal, in the Upper Nile state in South Sudan, where fighting between different armed factions has been raging since August.
The latest tragedy in chronological order is the assault carried out by an armed group on the Aburoch reception camp, in the Upper Nile County of Fashoda, which housed about 5/6 thousand displaced of the previous war (2013-18). "These people from other areas had managed over the years to rebuild their lives by starting small businesses", says Sister Elena. "The brutal attack on their camp (this is the second IDP camp attacked in recent days) shattered all of that. Camp residents were forced to flee through the swamps. There were several deaths, but we don't know how many", reports the missionary. "Last night the Caritas boat carrying supplies on the White Nile encountered a group of these people and ferried them overnight to a safe location. It was a difficult task. The boat got as close as possible to the swampy area from where the pirogues loaded with displaced people left and were loaded onto the boat. The boat would leave, unload the people, then return to the collection point and start again".
For Sr. Elena, the recent suspension of the South Sudanese government's participation in the Rome peace talks "was a cold shower, but this does not mean that the "door to peace is definitively closed".
In mid-November, the government in Juba announced the "suspension of its participation in the peace talks in Rome", accusing non-signatory South Sudanese opposition groups (NSSSOG) of "lack of commitment".
In this context, Pope Francis, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, leader of the world Anglican Communion, and pastor Iain Greenshields, moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland are expected in Juba from February, 3 to 5. "Their visit demonstrates the commitment of the Christian communities for peace in South Sudan. A visit that we await with hope, also to shed light on situations such as the one we are experiencing here in the Upper Nile on which the international press is silent", says the missionary, who underlines that "it is a question of giving visibility to the suffering of these populations who have been living in a war situation since August of this year". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 6/12/2022)