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Caritas South Sudan president: “All NGOs ran away...only Caritas remained”


South Sudan is the newest country in the world, since it became independent in 2011. And now Caritas South Sudan has become the newest member of Caritas Internationalis.

And the people of South Sudan certainly need all the help they can get.

The relative peace that came after independence was short-lived. Near the end of 2013, a civil war broke out. Tens of thousands of people have been killed, and more than one million have been internally displaced.

President, Caritas South Sudan
"There is suffering of people, especially in three states. The states of Jonglei, Upper Nile, and Unity. So in this area, actually, people are always on the run. There is no stability.”

Those three states make up one-third of the country. Civilians are frequently caught in the crossfire of government troops and rebels. 

Although the organization just now became an official member of Caritas Internationalis, Caritas workers have worked in the region since before independence. And the bishop said that they were sometimes the only people there.

President, Caritas South Sudan
"When South Sudan was struggling for independence, when war was intensifying in South Sudan against the ruling government in Sudan, all NGOs ran away. They abandoned us. But only Caritas remained. Caritas Internationalis members who were with us on the ground, but also Caritas South Sudan, which at that time used to be called Sudan Aid.”

The ongoing civil war has amplified the need for strong aid organizations, and Caritas continues to play a major role. 

President, Caritas South Sudan
"So Caritas has been very involved with being with the people, carrying out the work of emergency relief, and as far as possible, also providing pastoral and social support to the people.”

In a place like South Sudan, where the world often loses interest, one of the most important roles for NGO workers is simply reminding the people that they are not forgotten.