Preach peace, priest urges South Sudan citizens

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[Yei, South Sudan, TCT] A priest in South Sudan’s Yei Catholic diocese has appealed to South Sudanese to preach peace and embrace all those with divergent opinions for the stability of the nation.
“Now is the time for us in Yei and South Sudan to talk of peace so that we can bring back those who are outside the country,” Fr Tom Poru Martin, parish priest of Christ the King said in a sermon, adding that citizens should pray tirelessly so that all actors to the peace agreement commit to implement it.
He said that it is only when peace prevails in the country that those who are currently seeking refugee outside the country will be convinced to return.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said this month that the number of South Sudanese refugees has passed one million. Apart from that, there are thousands of internally displaced persons across the country.
Fr Poru said South Sudan tribes need to love and forgive one another and stop acts of revenge killings and intimidations. He added that soldiers and civilians should build trust to improve security and avoid uncalled for displacements.
“Let us live together as tribes, no revenge, no humiliation, and no intimidation. The relationship between the soldiers and the civilians should be very healthy and normal,” the priest said.
The priest asked the congregation to pray for South Sudan leaders for wisdom so that they serve the public interest. He criticized the tendency of cursing leaders due to the suffering in the country, adding that it is neither a solution for change nor the end of agony.
“Let us not curse our leaders. God will not accept that prayer. You pray to God that God change the hearts of these people so that they leave the mistakes they are making…they can change their hearts and pursue what is good,” he advised.
Yei Catholic bishop Erkolano Lodu Tombe agreed, “Let us pray for our soldiers and our transitional government officials. Let us be people of prayers and peace in all situations.”
Bishop Lodu decried the current situation in Yei where the situation of residents remains dire – lacking food and medical services, and insecurity along highways, which pose a threat to travelers.
“There are no many schools operational. Primary and kindergartens are just very few and many children have not returned. There is no enough food and the market is bad,” he observed.
According to Yei River state governor, David Lokonga Moses, growing insecurity in the state has worsened the humanitarian situation in the area and forced people to flee for their lives.
Lokonga told a UN assessment team in Yei recently that citizens in rural areas have been completely cut off from basic needs, blaming it on armed groups in the state.
“For the business community, their food supplies have gone down in the market,” he said.
In August, church leaders in the state jointly launched an emergency appeal, asking for humanitarian assistance to host communities and thousands of internally displaced people from Mundiri, Maridi and Wonduruba.
A humanitarian assessment team comprising different aid agencies carried out an assessment in Yei, where they met government officials, churches, civil society organizations and internally displaced people.

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