Three Christian development agencies have urged the UK Government to commit to financing a peace process in South Sudan.
The leaders of Christian Aid, CAFOD and Tearfund have written a joint open letter to the Prime Minister as the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland begin a three-day visit to South Sudan on Friday.
The charities warned of South Sudan’s growing hunger crisis with “some 7.7 million people – 54 per cent of the population - already living with crisis-level food insecurity”.
South Sudan separated from Sudan in 2011, making it the newest country in the world. However, a civil war erupted two years later, resulting in 400,000 deaths. According to the United Nations, it’s left 2.2 million internally displaced people in the country and another 2.3 million have fled.
Despite the worsening situation, the UK aid budget for South Sudan was cut by 59 per cent in 2021. The charities said this triggered cuts to “critical peacebuilding and resilience work with communities”.
Christine Allen, Director of CAFOD, said: “The people of South Sudan have suffered so much due to conflict and instability. But instead of being able to rely on the support of the UK, each year the Government has cut its funding.
“Our aid budget should prioritise countries impacted by conflict, failure to do so just increases the risk of other humanitarian crises such as displacement, hunger and gender-based violence.
“I hope the international community, including the UK, respond to the calls of Pope Francis and Archbishop Welby for peace, by stepping up and committing funding to support the peace process.”
In the letter, the Christian charity bosses call on the UK government to intensify efforts to support peace, urge South Sudan leaders to implement the Revitalised Agreement for the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, and uphold commitments to prevent and anticipate crisis.
Meanwhile, a new poll commissioned by Christian Aid has revealed that 53 per cent of British adults agree that the UK government should be a leader in providing humanitarian aid and peacebuilding for countries facing conflict like South Sudan.