Church Responds to Violence in South Sudan

photo courtesy of Episcopal Relief & Development

Clashes between political factions in South Sudan, which erupted in early July, have continued to worsen. Nearly 60,000 people have fled the country, most seeking refuge in Uganda, and the United Nations estimates that 40,000 people have been internally displaced by the latest violence.

On Monday, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, which says it is protecting 200,000 people in the country, issued a condemnation of “widespread sexual violence, including rape and gang rape, of women and young girls” in the capital city of Juba. The city is also experiencing a cholera outbreak, which has killed more than 20 people. A measles epidemic in camps for internally displaced people has killed 17 children in the last several weeks.

“Nobody in the armies cares about the civilians,” said the Rt. Rev. Joseph Garang Atem, bishop of the Diocese of Renk, on Wednesday. “But we depend on God for everything.” Renk and the Diocese of Chicago have had a companion relationship since 2001.

Earlier this week, the Anglican Communion News Service reported that the Rt. Rev. Eleoba Lako, bishop of Lainya, is the only civilian left in that town. Lainya is approximately 50 miles from Juba.

Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting the emergency response of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan & Sudan through its humanitarian arm, SUDRA (the Sudanese Development and Relief Agency). The agency is providing food for people who have taken refuge from the violence on the grounds of the cathedral in Juba and in churches.

The Episcopal Public Policy Network asks Episcopalians to advocate for increased humanitarian assistance for South Sudan by writing a letter to President Obama. Send a letter using the sample on the Episcopal Church website.

The United Nations reports that since December 2013, nearly 900,000 South Sudanese people have become refugees and more than 1.6 million are internally displaced. Approximately 4.8 million people are short of food.

Read more about the situation in South Sudan and the church’s response on the Episcopal News Service website.