When South Sudan’s civil war broke out in 2013, much of Equatoria – the country’s breadbasket in the south – was immune from the conflict. But that respite was short lived. As the government army began purging the region’s opponents last year, it has triggered the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis, with the United Nations warning of a potential genocide.
Ever since the declaration of independence of South Sudan, the South African country was never free of ethnic and political conflicts. South Sudan’s President, Vice President, and the House Chair came from the tribe of Dinka, Bari, and Nuer—three of the largest ethnic groups of the country—respectively. The Vice President raised a coup against the President in 2013, and the political conflict quickly turned into a nation-wide civil war, involving over 20 military groups, and causing the deaths of tens of thousands of countrymen. An increasing number of regions were damaged by the violence exerted by both the government and the anti-government forces.
Increasing numbers of South Sudanese are fleeing to northern Uganda to escape escalating violent conflict in their country. A total of 24,277 South Sudanese refugees were received in Uganda between the 25th and 31st January 2017 alone. The Human Rights Commission have condemned violations in South Sudan, calling for swift action to avert genocide. Integral Alliance (IA) has launched a Disaster Response for the worsening refugee crisis in northern Uganda. Responding Members committed to maximising their direct disaster response now, as well as considering their longer term approach, especially in the area of livelihoods.
Four years after South Sudan became the world’s newest country, its civil war has reached horrific levels of violence. Between April and June, government forces, together with associate militia, carried out an aggressive offensive in the north. Despite meeting little resistance in many areas – only women, children, and the elderly remained in most villages – troops killed civilians, torched homes, and beat, raped, and abducted women. At least 100,000 people have been displaced and untold numbers are left suffering.
[ePrayer – Pray for those helpless and powerless in South Sudan]
Since the eruption of fighting between the government and the opposition forces in mid-December that span across nearly half of South Sudan, UN Refugee agency (UNHCR) has estimated that at least 923,000 South Sudanese are displaced within their own country and over 293,000 people have become refugees in neighbouring countries. Tens of thousands of the displaced civilians are seeking shelter at UN peacekeeping bases (UNMISS) throughout the country.
Meanwhile, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned that one-third of the population of South Sudan is now experiencing food shortage. Some areas of the country will be even at high risk of famine in the coming months.
In the past 5 months, gross human rights abuses have been committed by both sides in the brutal conflict, including rapes, mass killings and torture. According to a recent United Nations report, civilians were not only caught up in the violence, but were directly targeted, often along ethnic lines.
The current militarised environment places women and girls at a heightened risk of sexual violence, as armed men are seen everywhere and civilian law enforcement is virtually absent,. Even those sheltered in UN bases are not safe. Women and girls are harassed at night. Many are even too fearful to bathe at night or go out to the toilet. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) estimated that 10,000 displaced women and girls reside in areas that are inaccessible to aid organisations and are at risk of sexual violence. [IRIN, UN News (1), UN News (2)]
Meditation on Scriptures:
He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— he remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. (Psalm 146: 6-9)
In the Old Testament, the foreigner, fatherless and widow are always mentioned together. These three groups of people are the most powerless among the marginalised. The foreigners live in places not of their own, the fatherless lost their parents and live alone without any provision from others, and the widows are often ignored in the community and live without dignity. God extends His powerful arm to protect and help the most powerless, and is pleased with those who act according to His will.
Come, let us raise our hands and pray for the refugees, orphans and widows affected by the current conflict in South Sudan; and for the God’s servants who are walking with the helpless and powerless in the frontline.
Pray for those helpless and powerless in South Sudan:
Thanks God for the recent signing of an agreement between the government and the opposition forces to resolve the crisis in South Sudan, and pray for an immediate cessation of hostilities;
Pray for God’s provision to the hungers, that the children and women are protected, and those suffered from diseases, violence, abuses and traumas are healed;
Medair and Tearfund UK, also member agencies of Integral Alliance, are now serving the helpless and powerless in South Sudan. Pray for their works and safety.
[ePrayer – Pray for South Sudan Civil War Imminent]
Since December 15 2013, there have been series of military conflicts between camps in the Government of South Sudan. It has caused thousands deaths. 58,000 sought help from local rescue organizations to meet their basic living needs. Although cease-fire is said to take place in some areas, but residents still dare not return to their home. In the capital Juba, more than 500 lives have been taken in 4 days. Citizens’ fear is obvious. Continued fighting rendered no safe refuge, there is no sense of safety completely! Whether aid workers, women or children, their lives are in risk; rescue workers have reportedly been fatally injured in the refugees camps. The overcrowded camps provided opportunities to culprits of sexual offenses. Trauma of war left in children’s hearts also need to be attended. [IRIN][BBC1][BBC2]
South Sudan is rich of oil reserve as its precious resources, but it leads to endless fighting and poverty to its own people. South Sudan was founded in July 2011, but its national have been suffering from unsafety and poverty ever since due to power struggles in government and people’s snatching of land, oil and other resources. Facing such a disastrous situation today, besides help to displaced and injured from rescuing agencies how can we tackle the ultimate reason for the military conflicts ─ human hatred and greed? How can we walk with this “young” country and assist to establish a good and effective governance? Can we see how God act in response to the cry of the poor on this piece of land?
CEDAR supported children centers in Sudan serving children without homes due to war or poverty. In early 2011 (before the independence of South Sudan), a portion of inmates of these centres were from south and chose to return their home-land. Earnestly hoping those children are still immersed in God’s grace!
Meditate on Scripture:
“But he saveth the poor from the sword, from their mouth, and from the hand of the mighty.” (Job 5:5) In war, every moment of living is a miracle; it shows only the peace from the heaven can overcome people’s fear and anxiety and only His salvation can restore a country from corruption.
Pray for South Sudan Civil War Imminent:
May the Lord’s protection fall on all affected, taking them away from killing and persecution.
May all the military conflicts be stopped; the two contentious sides may have consensus for a settlement.
May the Lord have pity on the leaders so that they can treasure about people; building up healthy lives and a culture of mutual respect – food and clothes for the poor, refuge for persons in risks; rehabilitation for offenders!
May the Lord’s protection be with the rescue workers especially in their saving and medical works.