Christians of South Sudan are suffering hunger and lack of security but the Polish Catholic Church is there to help by collecting money for those in dire need in a drive that will take place in Polish Catholic churches during the 11th Day of Solidarity with the Persecuted Church on Sunday, November 10.
A conference preceding the 11th Day of Solidarity with the Persecuted Church was organised by the Polish branch of an international Catholic pastoral aid organization Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) and the Polish Catholic Episcopate (KEP) on Friday.
“Today, we may talk about 350 mln Christians submitted to various forms of discrimination,“ said bishop Artur Miziński, Secretary-General of the KEP, adding that “this year South Sudan is in the spotlight of Catholics in Poland.”
The plight of Christians in South Sudan
Stephen Nyodho, bishop of the Malakal diocese in South Sudan, and a special guest at the conference, said that he arrived in Poland “to bring the voice of my people suffering in South Sudan.”
Bishop Nyodho went on to say that “the suffering of the people of South Sudan started after [acquiring] independence and when war broke out in 2013. People are suffering and for the most part of it, the flood two months ago compounded their dire predicament,” adding that the internal conflict between politicians drove South Sudanese citizens out to the neighbouring countries including Uganda and Ethiopia.
“When the war broke out in 2013, nothing was spared… people were killed even in hospitals, in churches,” said Bishop Nyodho, adding that “the properties of the church were either abandoned or looted… the churches were destroyed, even the school where I studied was reduced to rubble.”
Naming other plights of the South Sudanese people, the bishop also said that nearly 60 percent of people have no access to potable water and that the displaced individuals live in thousands in a huge camp in the capital, Juba.
According to the ACN, 60.5 percent of South Sudanese citizens are Christians, out of whom 40 percent are Catholics and 20.7 percent are Protestants. The UN reports suggest that over half of the nation’s population, namely 7 mln people, is starving. Also, the country has been receiving around USD 1.5 mln of aid yearly.
The South Sudan Civil War that has been raging since 2013 also gravely affected children’s’ mental health. Most of the former fighters are between 15-19-year-old. One-third of them are girls. Reportedly, 35 percent of children were diagnosed with the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The conflict has claimed a total of 383,000 lives.