Church Wau suspends New Year prayers amid fears
Tonight’s prayers at the Catholic Church of Wau to celebrate 2013 have been postponed due to fears of insecurity. The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese in Wau said in an interview with Radio Tamazuj that the citizens in his city are still scared after recent violent clashes: “They heard rumors of groups who are planning an attack to avenge the previous clashes with protestors.”
The clashes have been ongoing since December 9, following the government’s decision to transfer Wau County headquarters to Bagarri payam. At least 14 died and dozens were injured in separate incidents. South Sudan’s army occupied Wau in force on December 20 after rioters rampaged through the town. It has been feared that prevailing tensions could turn into a tribal conflict in Western Bahr el-Ghazal.
A collective effort
The Bishop said a collective effort is needed to heal the hearts of the citizens in Wau: “To restore the destruction of properties and the losses of so many citizens, the government, NGOs and civil society organizations need to work together.” He added that “it is everybody’s responsibility to rebuild hope and peace for Wau citizens”.
He said that he is convinced there are good people within the civil society and in the government who can bring back stability and peaceful co-existence between the communities of Western Bahr El-Ghazal state.
The Bishop called on state authorities to allow religious leaders, civil society organizations. youth and community leaders to mediate between Wau’s disputing communities, as he believes these bodies can have a great impact and bring ‘peaceful dialogue’ to the communities.