After a year of war in South Sudan the Archbishop of Juba has said the fighting has had a bitter impact on the nation, with communities sharply divided along ethnic lines.
Referring to an attempted coup by vice president Riek Machar, Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro said in a statement: “Exactly one year ago, our very young, beloved nation went into confusion.
“We have witnessed and lived for one year now a very miserable situation of things that should never have taken place on the soil of this nation,” he said.
Since mid-December 2013, the conflict has claimed at least 50,000 lives and forced close to two million people to flee.
Machar had been fired by President Salva Kiir five months earlier, and the political rivalry reopened deep ethnic tensions in South Sudan, which has more than 60 ethnic groups. Kiir comes from the dominant Dinka group, while Machar is from another major tribe, the Nuer.
“There has been so much unnecessary death and displacement of individuals and communities, with many fleeing the country as refugees” to neighbouring countries, Archbishop Loro said.
“The most appalling destruction” on people, property and the country’s social infrastructure also forced many South Sudanese to seek safety in UN camps within the country, he said.
Development programmes set up when South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July 2011 “have been badly damaged”, he said.
“The war has again fuelled the culture of violence that we have lived with for so long and has seriously undermined our beautiful position and image in the world” that three years ago “welcomed us as the world’s newest nation”, Archbishop Loro said.
The “deep crisis” means that the foundation of South Sudan’s administration “has not been put in place properly”, he said.
“Let us accept and find ways of treating our ethnic/tribal divisions in order to heal them from the roots through sincere and honest reconciliation,” the archbishop said.
He warned against misuse of power, noting that “power is a humble gift of service to the people of God through the voice of the people for a specific period of time and not forever”.
Archbishop Loro thanked the international community “who try to help us to settle our trouble” and appealed to them “to be really concerned to help us and not to exploit us”.
Source and Original Content by Catholic Herald