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Bishop of South Sudan: I feel nobody cares that human beings are dying in my country

Although Pope Francis announced that he would travel to South Sudan during his visit to an Anglican parish in Rome, in reality, he will not be able to go due to the high security risks.

Without any reliable numbers, it is estimated that 2.5 million have been displaced and tens of thousands killed as a consequence of the civil war involving crimes that are nearing a genocide. However, not only crossfire has taken lives: drought and famine have only added to the misery of the civil war. 

Bishop of Yei (South Sudan)
“It needs a big, big way to respond to alleviate the situation. People are dying. We are human, all of us. Those who are dying are human beings. And I think that that is what I really mean. We need humanitarian support.”

Erkolano Lodu is the bishop of the South Sudanese Diocese of Yei, on the border of Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. He describes a country on the edge of the abyss.

Bishop of Yei (South Sudan)

“It is a situation which, because of war, produces famine, suffering and hunger. And it is a situation, actually, of fear. It is a situation in which people are desperate. A situation because of which people are running from South Sudan to nearby countries like Uganda, in Congo, but also in Sudan, from which South Sudan separated.”

The desired independence in 2011 opened a new horizon for a population hitherto united by a common goal. Along with their separation from Sudan, they hoped that the peace they longed for would be attained, following the civil war which Sudan experienced between 1985 and 2005. The bishop laments that the International Community, which enthusiastically welcomed this process, has now forgotten his country. 

Bishop of Yei (South Sudan)

“We need the mediation. We need the support of the International Community. Which does not mean that we cannot solve this problem. The solution must come from us, but we need to be helped to find that solution. So, from that point of view, again, I can say that, 'yes' we might feel abandoned. I don't think it is right for the International Community to be tired of helping South Sudan, that got independence with enthusiasm, to abandon South Sudan into the misery of fighting itself.”

Some 120,000 people are at risk of starvation in a country where, even in the 21st century, parents are forced to deny themselves food in order to feed their children. There are many people in isolation who cannot even flee and who need help by air.

However, other international crises have taken over all of the attention and funds of humanitarian organizations, causing South Sudan to disappear from the map. Bishop Lodu asks that we do not let his people die of hunger and that he be given the opportunity to return to enjoy the hope of peace which was born in his country only six years ago.