Updates from South Sudan

January 08, 2014

Church prays, advocates for end to violent conflict

On December 15, violence erupted in Juba, South Sudan between two armed elements within the South Sudan Presidential Guard, one loyal to President Salva Kiir and one to former Vice President Riek Machar. The civil unrest has now spread to seven of the country's ten states and displaced about 194,000 people. Some have crossed into neighboring countries, and approximately 54,000 are seeking refuge at United Nations bases inside South Sudan, but thousands are sheltering out in the open with little security and scant supplies.

The Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan is working to end the violence through prayer and advocacy for a peace process. Church leaders are providing frequent updates on the situation in South Sudan:

From the Commission on Global Ministry:
Commission on Global Ministry member Jackie Kraus is in daily contact with Bishop Joseph Garag Atem of Renk and reports that his wife and daughters are in Nairobi and are safe. There is no fighting in Renk, but the number of people seeking safety and shelter is overwhelming. We regret to report that Bishop Joseph's brother was killed in the conflict. May he rise in glory.

From Episcopal Relief & Development:

Episcopal Relief & Development is working with its partners in South Sudan as they respond to the humanitarian needs of people displaced by the crisis in South Sudan. The Episcopal Church of South Sudan & Sudan (ECSSS) has established nine relief centers in Awerial to provide supplies and pastoral care to people who have fled violence in the nearby town of Bor.

The Church's relief and development arm, SUDRA (the Sudanese Development and Relief Agency), reports that nearly 76,000 people from Bor are currently sheltering at churches, schools and under trees in Awerial. Many of the displaced arrived on boats via the Nile River. Read more from Episcopal Relief & Development.

From Noah Hillerbrand, who was working with Bishop Joseph in Renk and is waiting out the conflict in Tanzania:

Eric Hillerbrand, Noah's father, reports, "[Noah] met a volunteer at an orphanage in Tanzania and plans to spend two weeks there continuing to wait things out. Noah reported that the fence building continues [learn more] and that the supplies ordered in Juba have continued down the Nile uninterrupted by the fighting. He expects them to arrive in the next two days.

Eric also reports that Noah's work to prepare a 25-acre plot for vegetables has continued unabated. "Noah was excited about the [fundraising] progress we have made and communicated with pride that this work has continued in Renk unaffected by the conflict."Learn more about Noah's work.

From the Archbishop of Canterbury:

On Monday, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby wrote Anglican primates at the request of Archbishop of South Sudan and Sudan Daniel Deng Bul Yak. In his letter, Welby "stressed that the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan has reached 'breaking point', and urged leaders to advocate for urgent support from aid organisations." Read more.

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