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Apostolic Nuncio to Sudan: 'In six months, there will be violence and starvation'

2014-06-19

The Republic of South Sudan is the world's youngest country. After its independence in 2011, it seemed that the region would finally embrace peace and prosperity. Three years later, though, it is in the middle of a civil war. Msgr. Charles Daniel Balvo, Apostolic Nuncio to South Sudan, explains this conflict is now becoming an ethnic one.

MSGR. CHARLES DANIEL BALVO
Nuncio to South Sudan
"The country became independent in July 2011, no longer having a common enemy they started fighting with each other in a certain sense. It's very unfortunate, but... To my and to the opinion of many others who look out the situation, it's pronominally a struggle for political power which has now tribal overtones.”

Two sides divide the African country: that of the President Salva Kiir, with Dinka background, and the one of former Vice president Riek Machar, who belongs to Nuer ethnic group. 

MSGR. CHARLES DANIEL BALVO
Nuncio to South Sudan
"It's not enough just to reconcile the two men. You have to reconcile all the society, and it's a society that hasn't known peace since 1955, when Sudan became independent. There has to be a whole work of overcoming tensions, not just to the level of the big chiefs but also on the level of the people.”

The on-going conflict left thousands of victims, and UN's angency for refugees ACNUR estimates that 230,000 people were forced to leave their homes. Msgr. Balvo believes the situation will  worsen dramatically if the population can't return to their homes and take care of the land.

MSGR. CHARLES DANIEL BALVO
Nuncio to South Sudan
"Part of the urgency in the fighting, in stopping the fighting, in South Sudan is that now is the rainy season. It is the time for the people, the farmers to plant their crops. And if they don't do that, then in six months not only will we have violence but you will have starvation.”

The Catholic Church works in the region to give material and spiritual support to the population. But it also promotes peace, along with the Anglican and Presbyterian Churches.

Pope Francis has repeatedly asked for peace in the region. He used different outlets in his callings: from this tweet, published on February 15, to a message sent to the Diocese of Juba, the largest city of South Sudan. He then wrote that the desire of power should not be stronger than peace.


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