Spokane, WA (PRWEB) December 22, 2013
Fighting between rival political factions in Juba, South Sudan, erupted into violence on Sunday, causing many observers to fear an all-out civil war. In government news broadcasts, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir accused former South Sudanese Vice President Riek Machar of attempting to stage a coup. Machar was removed from office in July, however many say a faction of soldiers remain loyal to him. Gunshots and heavy artillery could be heard in many areas of the city, and early reports estimate that up to 500 people have died. More than 30,000 people have taken refuge at UN missions in Juba and Bor where conditions are quickly worsening. Many expatriates have evacuated.
Since becoming independent from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan has struggled to establish stability, due in large part to deep division along both political and tribal lines. Machar and Kiir come from rival tribes—the Nuer and Dinka respectively—the two largest tribes in South Sudan. The UN warns this tribal division could result in an outbreak of civil war.
Partners International has partnered with Africa Inland Church (AIC) in Sudan, and later South Sudan, since 1995 carrying out joint initiatives for church planting and community development, as well as responding to humanitarian disasters in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Jonglei State. AIC’s South Sudan office is headquartered in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, where this conflict erupted, but which has now spread to other areas as well, particularly Jonglei State.
Partners International’s Horn of Africa Area Director Allen Wesley returned from Juba three weeks ago and said it was evident that there was tension building within the ruling party, mostly over tribal sentiments. Wesley spoke with Bishop Arkanjelo Wani Lemi, the leader of AIC-South Sudan, earlier this week. “Since Sunday evening the situation in Juba strangely changed from being peaceful into that of a war front,” he said. “Gunshots including heavy artillery were being fired in the streets of Juba. It was terrifying and deadly. It has been reported that many people have lost their lives and many have been displaced and are seeking refuge in churches and the UN compounds, mostly women and young children.” Wesley later said that gunshots could be heard throughout the call.
AIC church leaders met earlier this week to pray and discuss ways to help. They released a statement on behalf of the churches, urging the government to address the problem through peaceful means.
Many people are fleeing to the steps of the AIC churches, asking for assistance with food and basic necessities since it is unsafe to travel and most shops are closed. Not knowing at this point how much this situation will escalate, Partners International is initially seeking to raise $10,000 in emergency funds to provide food, water, and safe shelter to displaced South Sudanese through the network of AIC churches in Juba and elsewhere as needs arise.
About Partners International:
Since 1943, Partners International has connected the global Christian community to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the least reached, least resourced nations on earth.