SOUTH SUDAN: Churches Condemn Warring Factions for Ignoring People’s Needs

JUBA JUNE 27, 2017 (CISA) – The South Sudan Council of Churches (SSC) has criticized the country’s political leaders “on all sides” for placing political and personal interests above the needs of ordinary people.

The council is made up of the heads of the member churches, including Archbishop Paulino Lukudo Loro of Juba, charged that the country’s problems are “man-made, a result of mismanagement, blatant corruption, insecurity, lack of governance and the rule of law.”

“Greed, hatred and the struggle for power have left the ordinary people of South Sudan, on all sides of the conflict, as the losers,” the council said in a statement June 23 at the conclusion of a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Catholic News Service reported.

The church leaders said that while in Ethiopia, they visited refugee camps to talk with South Sudanese people who have fled the violence and stated that they came away saddened by listening to the refugees’ experiences.

They however thanked the people, churches and government of Ethiopia leaders for welcoming the refugees.

While welcoming the creation of a forum for national dialogue late in 2016 by President Salva Kiir, council members said that, for the effort to succeed, specific criteria for discussion must be met.

They lamented that the attempt at dialogue has gone unaccepted by opposition parties.

In the statement, the church leaders said they were speaking solely as religious leaders and that, because they were not politicians, they could not give “detailed political recommendations.”

“As pastors and shepherds, our first priority is the suffering of our people,” they said adding, “Nevertheless, we dare to speak to political leaders as Jesus instructed us, ‘like sheep among wolves … as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

South Sudan became independent from Sudan in 2011. But just two years after independence, political tensions erupted into violence. The fighting, displacement, insecurity and drought have led to large-scale hunger and malnutrition across the country.

The UN estimates that 3.8 million people have been displaced and at least 28 million are in need of food aid. Tens of thousands have died in the violence.

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