Pope Francis donates $500000 for aid projects in South Sudan
Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, the prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development presented “The Pope for South Sudan” initiative at a press conference. Other speakers were Dr. Michel Roy, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis; Sr. Laura Gemignani, Nzara General Hospital, South Sudan; Sr. Yudith Pereira-Rico, associate executive director of Solidarity with South Sudan. The ‘Pope for South Sudan’ is the Vatican-backed initiative which will donate about half a million dollars to help those suffering the in war-torn country.
In his presentation, Cardinal Turkson said the war in South Sudan continues to claim victims. Widespread systematic massacres and atrocities are carried out against civilians for ethnic reasons; women and children are victims of violence and abuse every day. War has created a very grave humanitarian crisis where half the population, around 7.3 million people, suffer from hunger on a daily basis. Thousands are at risk from a cholera epidemic; a million and a half inhabitants have been forced to flee their villages and cities as a result of the war; in this country.”
As a universal Pastor, Pope Francis “feels the pressing need to raise awareness among the international community of this silent drama, calling for greater and renewed efforts to reach a peaceful solution to the conflict,” Cardinal Turkson said. He added “The Pope wanted to make tangible the Church’s presence and closeness to the afflicted people through this initiative, that aims to foster, support and encourage the work of the various religious congregations and international aid organizations present in the territory and which work tirelessly to help the population and to promote the process of development and peace.”
Concrete Initiatives in 3 areas
The Pope’s project will launch initiatives in three main areas through the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development,:
Health: Two hospitals run by the Comboni Missionary Sisters operating in South Sudan: the Wau Hospital, and the Nzara Hospital.
Education: Through the association “Solidarity with South Sudan” two-year scholarships will be provided for students to enable them to obtain a Master’s degree in primary school teaching at the Solidarity Teacher Training Centre in Yambio.
Agriculture: A project run by Caritas Internationalis that provides tools to encourage farming and livestock breeding, aiming to increase the capacity of local communities to sustain themselves. 2,500 families in the dioceses of Yei, Tombura-Yambio and Torit will be involved.
Possible papal visit
“The Holy Father,” Cardinal Turkson stated “does not forget the unheard and silent victims of this bloody and inhuman conflict, and he does not forget all those people who are forced to flee their native country as a result of abuse, injustice and war – he remembers them all in his prayers and in his heart.”
“The Church does not give up hope in such a troubled territory” he added, before announcing that Pope Francis “firmly hopes to be able to make an official visit to the country as soon as possible.”
However, Greg Burke, director of the Holy See Press Office, had noted that the conditions in South Sudan did not allow an October 2017 visit as hoped; therefore, the visit is not expected to take place until at least 2018. Cardinal Turkson stressed the Holy See continues to do all it can to stop the fighting in South Sudan. If this can be done, a visit by the Pope and by Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will take place.