July 13, 2016
Dear AACC Member churches,
Dear General Committee Members,
As you might already be aware, South Sudan is in crisis again. At a meeting convened yesterday by the All Africa Conference of Churches and attended by some members of the ecumenical family here and the AACC Peace Advisory Council (as you will see in a separate communication) certain decisions were made, one of which was to update our members and the wider ecumenical family on the issue.
In a telephone conversation yesterday by Rev. Dr. Sam Kobia, Chair of the AACC Peace Advisory Council with some key Church leaders in South Sudan, the information below was gathered:
The current situation in Juba
- The ceasefire called by the President and the first Vice President is holding. However, there were jet fighters flying in the skies above Juba and there were planes landing while being given air cover by the jet fighters. The understanding is that these were not regular commercial flights but chartered flights to evacuate the nationals of various countries.
- Majority of the people remained indoors, fearing to venture outside even though the guns had gone silent.
- Church compounds were sheltering thousands of civilians who fled from their homes. In the Catholic churches there were an estimated 20,000 people and more than 6,000 at the Pentecostal churches in Juba.
- There wasn’t much economic activity: no shops or banks were opened.
Request by the Church leaders to the ecumenical family
- Humanitarian assistance: From the discussions, it was very clear that this was the most pressing need. With churches becoming sheltering places, there is need for any humanitarian assistance that can be mobilized. It is the expectation of the Church Leaders in South Sudan that AACC will take the lead in the provision and coordination of any humanitarian assistance from the ecumenical family in this regard.
- Message of peace: They call for the churches in the region and internationally to speak in one voice and that is the voice calling for peace – speaking in a voice that includes churches under the membership of AACC, National Councils of Churches, the Evangelicals and the Pentecostals. The South Sudanese Church leaders feel very strongly that such a united voice could have some impact.
- Advocacy: The South Sudanese Church leaders would like to be facilitated to address the East African Legislative Assembly.
- Regional Platform for Dialogue: A platform for dialogue between the South Sudanese Church leaders and Church leaders from the region should be promoted. This could either be in South Sudan or elsewhere in the region.
- Ecumenical Solidarity Visit to South Sudan: The Church leaders feel that this will serve the purpose of showing the solidarity of the wider ecumenical community to South Sudan.
Conclusion and Appeal
The AACC leadership was struck by the depth of appreciation the Church leaders expressed to the ecumenical family for the outpouring of concern and solidarity. With regards to their immediate needs, we want on behalf of the churches in South Sudan to appeal to all and sundry for generous donations.
With our deepest gratitude for quick response,
Rev. Dr. Andre Karamaga
AACC General Secretary