Bishops 'pained' by suffering in W Equatoria
Episcopal church leaders from Western Equatoria are calling for peace, saying that their people are suffering and dying because of violence in the state.
In spite of a peace deal signed last August, the state has seen fighting between local militia groups and rebels and the SPLA loyal to President Salva Kiir.
Civilians in Lui Diocese, where SPLA helicopter gunships allegedly bombed civilians last October, have been largely cut off from aid. The area bishop, Stephen Dokolo, says the situation is “very painful.”
“It is important to speed up the process of mobilising resources so that help can reach people suffering now, with no water, no food, no medicine . . . It's a sad situation, very painful,” said Dokolo, as quoted by the Anglican Communion News Service.
People hiding in the forest do not have access to water and are relying on wild plants for food, added the bishop.
The church news service also reported that the current violence could result in longer term food insecurity given reports that farmers have not been able to harvest their crops. People have been attacked as they try to get back to their fields, said the Reverend Joseph El Hag, director of SUDRA, the Episcopal church's relief and development arm.
El Hag said that food granaries and shops were looted and burned to the ground.
Bishop Tandema Andrew of Olo Diocese said that there is scarce food and medicine in the remoter areas of the state. “People are dying, it is very precarious,” he said. “Children are dying of malaria, women are dying in childbirth, it is very difficult for people in the bush.”
The bishops called for advocacy for peace to end the conflict.
Photo: A consecration ceremony of new Episcopal Bishops in South Sudan (The Christian Times)