AFRICA/SOUTH SUDAN - Clashes between militias in Upper Nile and Jonglei: Bishop expresses concern

Wednesday, 21 December 2022 bishops   violence   pope francis  

Juba (Agenzia Fides) - A total of 166 dead, 237 injured, 20,000 to 50,000 internally displaced persons, 3,000 refugees: these figures represent the tragedy experienced by the population of the States of Upper Nile and Jonglei in South Sudan since fighting between rival militias resumed in August.
They are quoted by Bishop Stephen Nyodho of Malakal in a desperate appeal, which says: "I cordially invite you to listen to the voices of your conscience and see the suffering of your people". In an interview with "Eye Radio", Bishop Nyodho also recalled South Sudan's struggle for independence from Sudan, which ended in 2011 with the proclamation of a new state with the capital Juba. The brief period of peace was short-lived, however, as civil war broke out in December 2013, which saw President Salva Kiir Mayardit and former Vice President Riek Machar against one another, and the involvement of various other groups and militias.
After ups and downs and despite the signing of peace agreements in 2018, South Sudan continues to live in insecurity and violence, which are currently concentrated mainly in the Upper Nile and Jonglei regions (see Fides, 6/12/2022)
"My humble advice to the fighting groups is to stop the violence unconditionally, you are all brothers and sisters," appealed the bishop, recalling that "all communities in Upper Nile are paying the unnecessary price for a crime they never committed. I call upon you sons and daughters of the Upper Nile to come together and keep in mind the common good and interests of the region."
"It is with sadness and concern that I follow the news from South Sudan about the violent clashes of the past few days. We pray to God for peace and national reconciliation, that attacks will stop and that civilians will always be respected,” said Pope Francis, who will visit South Sudan in February, following the Angelus prayer on Sunday 11 December: "I follow with sorrow and concern the news from South Sudan about the violent clashes of the past few days. Let us pray to the Lord for peace and national reconciliation, so that the attacks may cease and that civilians may always be respected".
The "Troika" formed by the USA, the United Kingdom and Norway, which follows the implementation of the peace agreements, has issued a joint statement together with the European Union in which it expresses concern "over the escalation of violence in the Upper Nile and in Jonglei where, in addition to mass murders, the destruction of homes and livelihoods, sexual and gender-based violence, including against minors, are reported". "The Troika and the EU urgently call on South Sudan's transitional leaders to act now to end the violence and protect civilians by enabling safe access for humanitarian assistance to Upper Nile and Jonglei state, as well as in other areas of conflict in the country, and to the more than 9.4 million people in need of aid throughout South Sudan". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 21/12/2022)