Ajok Uogu feeds her 2-year old daughter, Awok, a nutritional supplement April 26 in St. Daniel Comboni Catholic Hospital in Wau, South Sudan. Drought and armed conflict have pushed tens of thousands of Wau-area residents out of their homes, away from their farms and unable to adequately feed themselves. CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey

Canadian Christian leaders make urgent appeal to help South Sudan

  • May 3, 2017

OTTAWA – Canada’s Catholic bishops have joined other Christian leaders in making an urgent appeal to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to help South Sudan.

The letter, dated April 27, urges the government to supply more humanitarian aid as well as encourage other nations to help. It is signed by the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), Bishop Douglas Crosby of Hamilton; the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada Archbishop Fred Hiltz, and the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, Rev. Douglas H. Rollwage.

“Mr. Prime Minister, if the violence continues unabated, the ethnic tribes in South Sudan risk becoming further alienated from one another, making the governing of this young country more difficult and complex when eventually there is a cessation to the violence,” they wrote.

The ecumenical leaders urged Canada to consider increasing the number of peacekeepers it has committed to the UN mission in South Sudan, a new country formed in 2011 that has been wracked by civil war since 2013. Canada has contributed 10 peacekeepers so far.

“We are continuing to hear disturbing reports of gross violations of fundamental human rights carried out with total impunity,” the religious leaders’ letter said.

The letter pointed to recent communications from the Catholic Bishops of South Sudan, who report human rights violations by both the opposition and government forces, including the killing and torture of civilians.

In a Feb. 16 communique, the South Sudan bishops warned 4.9 million people will soon face a “food crisis across the country” and the number could grow to 5.9 million by July. The Canadian religious leaders pointed to the bishops’ concerns about the “dreadful and man-made famine being inflicted upon the country.”

The ecumenical leaders cited news reports that 100,000 are experiencing famine. They urged Canada to speak up about the food crisis at home and abroad and to encourage more food assistance in addition to helping restore the rule of law and protecting human rights. They also asked that Canada work with the United Nations Security Council, the international community and business interests to prevent weapons and war materials from coming into the area.

The letter included thanks to Canada for $37 million allocated to South Sudan.

The UN World Food Program has been dropping food aid from planes to famine-afflicted areas.

The CCCB’s overseas development agency, Development and Peace, has been assisting Catholic aid groups under the Caritas umbrella since before South Sudan’s independence to help with food shortages.

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