SOUTH SUDAN: Clerics Urge State to Recognize Plight of Families of Missing Persons

By Odiwuor Opiyo

JUBA, SEPTEMBER 2, 2022 (CISA) – The South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) has urged the government of South Sudan to recognize the plight of the families of missing persons, provide them with care and assistance, legal and economic support, health, educational services and sustainable and dignified livelihood opportunities as well as help clarify the fate of missing persons through possible means.

In a statement dated August 29, the clerics averred that, “behind every missing person, there are countless more people suffering from the anguish and uncertainty of not knowing the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones.”

The religious leaders through the statement that came before the International Day of the Disappeared which is commemorated on August 30, acknowledged that they recognize, “In South Sudan, disappearances affect individuals, families, communities and society.”

“The never ending uncertainty, expectancy, and pain of families of missing persons pervade every aspect of their lives. Not knowing what happened to their loved ones and being unable to give them a dignified burial remains an open wound, leaving little possibility for families and communities to recover and move on, insisted the religious leaders.

The leaders moreover, highlighted that religious faiths are guides for families to cope with their suffering related to the disappearance of their loved ones. “Religion plays an integral role in supporting families of missing persons to cope with suffering and despair,” said the SSCC urging that, “all churches and God-fearing people to stand in solidarity with and address families of missing persons in their masses and prayers as many families find relief in their religion.”

According to the statement, the Red Cross in South Sudan has so far reported more than 5500 cases of missing persons not representing the actual number as most cases of disappearances are not registered and documented.

“The exact scope of the issue of disappearances remains unknown, yet painfully large,” SSCC intimates.