The reports this morning, 19th December, are that Juba has been relatively calm overnight although gunfire is being heard constantly. Criminals are taking advantage of the situation to loot and rob. There is a strict nighttime curfew in place and there are many security forces on the street. Most of the offices are closed but not all. The banks have been open for a short period I understand. People are getting out to do regular shopping.
The UK is sending a plane to evacuate its nationals. The US had a plane go yesterday and more due today. Expats are understandably reluctant to leave their South Sudanese colleagues prematurely. They don't want to be seen as letting them down and 'run away' as the South Sudanese call it. "If you really care why do you abandon us so quickly?" is a valid question. On the other hand relatives and friends just want them home and safe, which is equally understandable. So dedicated expats who feel at home in Juba are torn. If you are either South Sudanese or a relative please try and understand how hard this is. And people on the outside please remember that the vast majority of South Sudanese are victims of all this - ordinary civilian people, men, women and children. They are generous people, loving and caring people and most notably peace-loving who find it just as hard to understand polititians and soldiers on personal power trips as people on the outside.
Sometimes we hear people telling us that all this was inevitable and that we should redirect our efforts elsewhere. Let it be known that we shall never give up on this country. These people and the example that so many of them have set in the midst of so much suffering is an inspiration to the world. Despite all the dysfunctionality of the State, there is a purity in people in South Sudan that is not seen as much in the West. We should never be tempted to be smug - in the end it is the selfishness of the rich and powerful that has caused, and continues to cause most of the world's problems. This emergency should lead us all to repent and return to the One without whom we cannot be truly human.
The church leaders yesterday issued the following communiqué which reflects what the ordinary people are saying.
December 18, 2013
We, the Archbishop, Moderators, Overseer, and clergy from various denominations of the churches in South Sudan, and native members from the Dinka and Nuer Communities:
- Identify ourselves not as representatives of tribes or denominations but as leaders and representatives of one church and one body of Christ.
- We are gathered, united and speaking in one voice that peace and reconciliation must prevail in our country.
- We are saddened of the conflict which has happened in Juba and ongoing in other areas like Bor in Jonglei State. We are concerned about the consequences. It is unfortunate many lives have been lost, many more wounded while many others displaced in their own country. We condole with the families who have lost their loved ones and those separated from their families by the conflict in Juba, Bor and other areas
- We condemn the clash and acts of violence which have happened within the barracks of the Republic of South Sudan.
- We condemn and correct the media statements and reports that refer to the violence as conflict between the Dinka and Nuer tribes. Whatever has happened should not be referred to as ethnic conflict and not between the Dinka and Nuer communities. These are political differences among the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) Party, political leaders of the Republic of South Sudan.
- Therefore, we appeal to the two communities of Dinka and Nuer not to accept that the conflict is between the two tribes.
- We appeal to the army and security organs of our Government of South Sudan to take control of the situation and protect its citizens. Our citizens are running for refuge in UN Compounds because they do not feel safe from their own security forces.
- We are concerned about the reports of abuse, harassment and killing of individual citizens based on their ethnic affiliation. These are happening and witnessed for the last three days. Soldiers are asking civilians to identify themselves by tribes and we cannot accept to be identified by our tribes as we are all South Sudanese. We condemn such acts of abuse and hope that no more human lives should be lost.
- We appeal to our Government to ensure safety of leaders under arrest and ensure speedy justice for any criminal act but most importantly reconciliation for political differences.
- We appeal to our political leaders to refrain from hate speeches that may incite and escalate the violence. We urge to initiate dialogues and resolve issues amicably.
- We appeal to the international community to respond fast and positively to the humanitarian crisis which has developed in the last three days particularly in Juba and Bor.
- We appeal to our President of the Republic of South Sudan, His Excellency Salva Kiir Mayardit to continue to calm and ensure safety for our nation.
Most Reverend Daniel Deng Bul, Archbishop of Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan (ECSS)
Rev. Tut Kony Nyang, Moderator of the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church
Bishop Dr. Isaiah Majok Dau, Overseer, Sudan Pentecostal Church
Rt. Rev. David Akau Kuol, Bishop of Diocese of Awerial, ECSS
Bishop Michael Taban, Chairperson of South Sudan Council of Churches
Rev. Mark Akech Cien, Acting General Secretary of South Sudan Council of Churches
Rev. James Yout Chuol, ECSS, Diocese of Akobo
Rev. Daniel Deng Anhiany, ECSS, Diocese of Malakal
Rev. Samuel Galuak Marial, ECSS Diocese of Twich East
Rev. Peter Adum Deng, ECSS, Diocese of Twich East
Rev. William Mou Deng, ECSS, Diocese of Wau and Aweil
Rev. Philip Aduong Thiong, ECSS Diocese of Juba
Rev. John Chol Daau, ECSS Diocese of Bor
Rev. Yat Michael Ruot, South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church
Rev. Gatkuoth Chuol Bul, South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church