People in South Sudan are starving. Due to tribal fighting, many people have left the countryside for larger towns, including Juba. Others are fleeing the country altogether unable to cultivate their own land. Some schools in Juba have begun distributing food to their students because there is nothing at home for the children to eat and they are too weak to focus on studies.
The situation in South Sudan is causing great insecurity across the nation. Kiden*, a 48-year-old woman says the recent turmoil has been the worst she’s ever experienced.
One of Partners International’s ministry leaders recently reported: “The reality on the ground is that people are dying. There is no place now in South Sudan that is not affected.”
Our ministry partner, Africa Inland Church South Sudan (AIC), has been working to help the displaced, distributing food and basic supplies. One mother, a recipient of food relief, Betty Asha*, has a family of seven and little money to buy food. To survive, she made a stew, which she served to her family once a day. Often, they went to bed hungry.
Betty is among the thousands who AIC has helped . While AIC’s own workers face the same realities of those they serve, they continue to reach out to the most vulnerable.
According to one ministry leader, the people are traumatized. “We wept when we saw how utterly desperate the people are. They have left everything behind — homes, land, cattle, children’s schooling, and some lost family members.”
A land in turmoil
Since July, internal tribal and political conflict has swept South Sudan into a resurgence of instability. With starvation a rising threat, the United Nations declared a state of famine affecting around 100,000 people in parts of the nation. Earlier this month, the UN Commission for Human Rights warned that the country teeters on the brink of genocide.
South Sudan is a young nation, having gained independence from its northern neighbor, Sudan, on Jan. 9, 2011. Civil war broke out in 2013 between military forces of President Salvar Kiir and opposition forces led by former Vice President Rick Machar. The rise of ethnic factionalism further fueled the conflict.
Fighting died down in 2015 when the warring parties signed a peace agreement. Yet peace was short lived. Violence broke out in July 2016 in Juba. About 100,000 were killed and 2 million were displaced from their homes. Nearly 1.3 million South Sudanese have become refugees, while those remaining face possible ethnic cleansing, sexual violence and famine.
Feeding the hungry
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen. . . Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out….?” Isaiah 58:6-7
In the thick of such tragedy, the church stands to welcome the oppressed and protect the weak. Following the above Scripture in Isaiah, AIC is sharing food with the hungry and giving shelter to the poor by opening their school facilities and establishing relief centers through local churches. AIC aims to reduce malnutrition among orphaned children, nursing mothers and widows.
We are partnering with AIC’s efforts to address the needs of the most vulnerable in and around Juba. While we can’t fix the situation in South Sudan, we believe God would have us respond through the avenues we have available. Should God provide more resources, we will send them to other areas of South Sudan and provide for those who have fled to refugee camps in Northern Uganda.
As AIC continues to aid the thousands fleeing ethnic cleansing, sexual violence and famine, Partners International is seeking to raise $60,000 in two weeks to send to this ministry in hopes of bringing assistance to those facing desperate needs.
We ask you to prayerfully join our efforts as we seek to assist AIC in sharing hope to those caught up on the ongoing turmoil in South Sudan.
*Names have been changed for security