South Sudan church leaders plead for attention to deteriorating situation

(Photo: REUTERS / Andreea)U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power (L) and Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant (2nd L) meets with South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (C), during a visit by the United Nations Security Council, in the Office of the President in Juba August 12, 2014.

Representatives from churches in South Sudan went to London this week to ask for international support, saying that millions of their countrymen are dying.

Church leaders from the Africa Inland Church, Episcopal Church of Sudan, Presbyterian Church of East Africa and the Pentecostal Church in South Sudan met with the Barnabas Fund.

They discussed the conflict engulfing their country on August 19, Christian Today reported.

The Barnabas Fund is a UK-based organization that seeks to support projects which help Christians suffering from discrimination, oppression, and persecution.

"We believe the Church can make a difference," Bishop Martin Mogga Ilfoga of the Africa Inland Church said.

Political unrest has severely plagued South Sudan for years.

In December, a political dispute between President Salva Kiir from the Dinka ethnicity, and former Vice President Riek Machar from the Nuer ethnicity sparked an ethnic war which resulted in thousands of South Sudanese deaths.

Since the unrest, tens of thousands of South Sudanese have been killed; 1.5 million people of whom more than half are children, have been displaced; and almost 5 million are in need of humanitarian assistance.

With droughts and untended crops because of displacement, famines have swept South Sudan.

Despite the emergency situation, church leaders said that South Sudan's plight has remained unnoticed with the continuing conflict in Iraq, Syria, Gaza, and Ukraine snatching the world's attention.

"The international community has forgotten us," one bishop lamented.

Bishop Martin said that the Church is in the best position to help refugees since its representatives can go anywhere, even in restricted areas.

Meanwhile, Presbyterians have been urged to extend assistance to South Sudan.

In a Belfast Telegraph report, Presbyterian moderator Dr. Michael Barry said that "a humanitarian crisis on an even greater scale is unfolding in South Sudan.

"The UN Security Council has identified the food crisis there as the worst in the world, with four million people needing emergency food aid, water and medical treatment," he said.

He then revealed that the church has already sent 50,000 British pounds to help the work of Christian Aid, Tearfund and the relief work of the local Presbyterian Church in South Sudan.

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