Church leaders are appealing to the international community, as over 67,000 South Sudanese refugees return home to escape the violence in Sudan. The refugees lack necessities such as food, water, shelter, clothes, bedding, sanitation and health care.
The South Sudanese civil war, which ended with a 2018 peace agreement that brought Kiir and Machar together in a government of national unity, left nearly 400,000 people dead and over 4 million displaced from their homes.
But now a civil war in Sudan that began on April 15, 2023, between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces has forced more than 100,000 to flee the country. Over 90 per cent of them are South Sudanese refugees who are once again escaping a civil war — this time to go back to homes that are no longer there.
The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Malakal in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state, Rev Stephen Nyodho Ador Majwok, said the situation was worse in Malakal since most of the new arrivals from Sudan are seeking refuge in the region, which is already struggling with internal displacement .
“Most of the refugees in my diocese are suffering. They are living without food and shelter,” he said, thanking Caritas and the community in Malakal for recently providing food for returnees. “We are humbly asking our partners and donors to save lives by donating anything they have to the church so that we can reach out to many people.”
He noted that the churches are trying their best to meet basic needs, raise funds to help construct houses and toilets for returnees and offer mental health counselling. However, he said, their resources are limited, and they can’t reach out to everyone.
“The churches and communities are appealing for funding to continue feeding thousands of refugees and those returning from Sudan,” he said. “The situation is currently deplorable. It was recently heart-breaking to watch families and their children going to bed without food. Women and their children were looking thin and weak, and others were very sick.”