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South Sudan’s Christians Threatened by Worsening Conflict

06. January 2014

News, Missions News, World News,

  

Recent violence has resulted in the temporary departure of all RPCNA missionaries from South Sudan. Read more about that when the Jan./Feb. issue comes out. For news of the broader conflict, see the article below. –Editor

(By Jamie Dean/WNS)–Three days after violence erupted in the South Sudanese capital of Juba, a group of church leaders in the East African nation entreated warring factions and ordinary citizens: Don’t let political strife turn into ethnic war.

It was a desperate plea in a devolving conflict between Sudanese soldiers loyal to South Sudan President Salva Kiir—a member of the Dinka ethnic group—and those loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar—a member of the Nuer tribe.

Even as the South Sudan Council of Churches issued its statement calling for peace on Dec. 18, church leaders acknowledged the chaos unfolding in the capital. “Soldiers are asking civilians to identify themselves by tribes,” church leaders wrote. “And we cannot accept to be identified by our tribes, as we are all South Sudanese.”

For hundreds of soldiers and civilians—including at least one pastor—the plea fell short. On Dec. 19, the international advocacy group Human Rights Watch reported South Sudanese soldiers had “fired indiscriminately in highly populated areas and targeted people for their ethnicity during recent fighting in Juba.”

In the capital city, most reports concerned attacks on ethnic Nuer ...

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