South Sudan is a nation that’s known little peace in its nine-year lifetime. A recent attack on in the north-east of the country left hundreds of people dead in Jonglei state, including three aid workers – further evidence that peace is not here yet.
But we won’t stop praying. We won’t stop going to the hungry and the vulnerable. It’s what Jesus calls us to do.
Tearfund’s team in the country sees first hand the consequences of this unrest, which forces people away from their homes and pushes them into extreme poverty. That’s why we won’t stop our feeding centres for malnourished children, pregnant and new mothers, or our food distributions and our water and sanitation work.
There have been glimmers of hope in the peace process, most recently on 22 February. Rival leaders President Salva Kiir and former opposition leader Riek Machar agreed to form a new government. It comes after six years of conflict and fighting, where 400,000 people have been killed and many more displaced.
Since then South Sudan has been making small steps towards peace and stability. But some militant leaders didn’t agree to the peace deal, and clashes continue.
Violence has been on the rise since March, with community conflicts centering around cattle raiding and retribution for previous attacks. It’s jeopardising efforts by humanitarian groups such as Tearfund in a region that has been hit by droughts, floods, locusts, and now the start of a potentially large-scale coronavirus outbreak.
There have been glimmers of hope in the peace process
In the Jonglei region, where May’s attack took place, Tearfund has had to temporarily relocate its offices. But we continue to provide life-saving support at our feeding centres where it is possible.
‘We are deeply saddened by the recent deaths and conflicts in the country,’ says Anthony Rama, Tearfund Country Director in South Sudan. ‘Fighting between communities disrupts the life-saving work we do for people who are already desperate. All parties and communities must step up efforts at a local and national level to end this cycle of violence and deliver sustainable peace for South Sudan.’
The coronavirus pandemic is only adding fuel to the many challenges that South Sudan is facing. At the time of writing, there are 1604 confirmed cases and 19 deaths reported.
With a struggling health system it becomes almost impossible to provide the most-needed medical care. The country is just not equipped to handle this new crisis.
Even though the number of cases is rapidly increasing, the government has decided to ease restrictions so that people can try to make a living. The hope is this will help to revive the economy. But with the closure of borders prices have rocketed, making it very difficult for families.
Before the coronavirus, more than half of the population (6.5 million people) were at risk of hunger. And as well as coronavirus, plagues of locusts are currently invading parts of east Africa, and severe flooding in 2019 saw many farmers lose their homes, crops and cattle. It means even more people will need food aid and humanitarian support.
Please join us in praying for lasting peace in South Sudan.
• Pray for the end of the cycle of violence and poverty in South Sudan.
• Ask God to protect our staff, partners and the communities we serve.
• Pray for the end of the coronavirus outbreak and for an effective response.