Added on 15/05/2014
Bishop Justin Badi from Down and Dromore’s link diocese of Maridi in South Sudan is currently on a short visit to Northern Ireland. He has a number of speaking engagements and will attend the CMS Ireland 200th Anniversary celebrations this week.
The Bishop reports that Maridi is peaceful but crowded with displaced people who have travelled from the troubled states. There are about 6000 of them in the town, many of whom have come from over 300 miles away. Those who have the ability cross to Uganda or Kenya to where the UN is offering support.
‘Of course we have limited help that we can give them,’ says Bishop Justin. ‘but the money that came from Northern Ireland helped us to support those people as they were arriving and get them started. It has been very helpful to be able to demonstrate the love of the church to those people at that difficult time.
‘Our plan is to give those of them who have remained with us in Maridi a piece of land that they cultivate so that they can grow food for themselves as they wait for the situation back in their place to normalise. One of our parishes is giving them land temporarily and another of the things we want to get is agricultural tools.’
The diocese has been busy building some washing cubicles so that the refugees can have some privacy. They have also found some educated young men among the displaced and set them to work teaching the children whose education has ground to a halt.
Meeting these basic needs is one issue but another has been to deal with the tensions arising among traumatised Nuer and Dinka people.
‘They wanted to bring their bitterness with them,’ says Bishop Justin, ‘so we have tried to cool them down and help them be calm, so they are doing well.’
The political picture has changed recently with the signing of a ceasefire agreement, although there are indications that it was violated the very next day. An urgent prayer is that the ceasefire would hold on the ground and that the international community would use its influence to hold both sides to account.
Bishop Justin says, ‘The prayer which is very much needed is for peace because if the situation continues like that it will be difficult for us as a church and the people of Maridi because the conflict will not just remain in the one place. It will progress, so peace and stability is actually our priority for prayer.’
For further information, please contact
Down & Dromore Diocesan Communications Officer
Church of Ireland House
61–67 Donegall Street
Tel: (028) 9032 2268
Fax:(028) 9023 1902
Mob: 07595 231958