UGANDA: Bishop Odoki of Arua Diocese Appeals for Pastoral Help for Refugees

ARUA, JULY 27, 2018 (CISA)-Bishop Sabino Ocan Odoki of the Catholic diocese of Arua has appealed for pastoral help to meet rising spiritual demands of the faithful due to incursion of refugees in his diocese.

Although Catholic Aid Agencies including the local Caritas, caritas Belgium and Norway are addressing their physical needs, “there is another need that we are struggling to meet, and that is the pastoral and spiritual care of refugees.”

Bishop Odoki has asked religious congregations to send priests and sisters to help meet the refugees’ spiritual needs.

He also petitioned for financial support from donors and well-wishers that will assist in meeting the financial demands of the pastoral agents in line of duty.

“We lack money to provide for them food, transport and personal necessities,” he said in an interview with Vatican news.

He lauded the Ugandan Cultural leaders and the Government of Uganda for allocating free land to the refugees and thus decongesting the local parishes.

The number of refugees has been on a sharp increase since late 2013 after civil war broke out in South Sudan. Currently, more than a million refugees are residing in the diocese of Arura with a bigger portion from South Sudan and some from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In August 2017, the United Nations warned of an influx of number of refugees flocking in Uganda from South Sudan and Democratic republic of Congo.

“Over the past 12 months, an average of 1800 South Sudanese have been coming to Uganda every day,” said the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in a statement to the press on August 17.

Apart from Uganda, a million or even more refugees are being hosted by Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Central African Republic.