(National Catholic Register/CNA) SOUTH SUDAN: “Even our schools have become refugee camps”
National Catholic Reporter article about Pope Francis’ call for peace in South Sudan includes interviews with Salesian missionaries working on the front lines of ethnic and religious conflict.
WAU, South Sudan (May 5, 2019)
“During the crises, it is the Church that people look to for a peaceful refuge,” Salesian Sister Dolores Alphonso told the Register, speaking from Wau, a city in the northwest of South Sudan. The Salesian sisters run four school campuses in the country, each with a thousand students.
But the Church’s properties are considered by all sides as sanctuary, and Sister Dolores said many people have stayed on their campuses since the fighting resumed in 2016, because they feel safe from violence there.
“Even our schools have become refugee camps,” she said.
Sister Dolores, who has been in missions both in Ethiopia and South Sudan since 2002, said the Church’s ability to provide refuge and carry out its activities without grave harm is due to the fact that “people respect us and know our work.”
Salesian Father Shyjan Job, who serves at the Don Bosco center in Gumbo, an area on the outskirts of Juba, told the Register the Salesian priests and brothers have continued to take care of more than 10,000 displaced persons who took refuge at the Don Bosco center since fighting broke out there in 2016. They have even added more displaced families over the past couple of years, putting even greater strain on their school, which also serves 4,500 students.
“We are doing our best to help the people under our care,” he told the Register via Skpe.
Read the full article by Peter Jesserer Smith in the National Catholic Register.