Pope Francis on Saturday February 4 in Juba launched an ardent cry of alarm to the leaders of South Sudan to restore "
" to the displaced, renewing his call for peace in a country torn apart by power struggles.
I renew with all my strength the most pressing appeal (...) to seriously resume the peace process so that the violence ends and people can regain a dignified life
", declared the pope during a meeting with internally displaced persons on the second day of his visit.
But we can't wait any longer: a large number of children born in recent years have known only the reality of camps for displaced people, forgetting the air of the country, losing the link with their land of origin, their roots , their traditions
,” he insisted in front of 2,500 people.
2.2 million displaced
The head of the Catholic Church notably “
” the inhabitants to “
protect, respect and value
Sexual violence against women and girls is "
widespread and systematic
" in the country, according to a report published in 2022 by the UN-mandated Commission on Human Rights.
The Argentine pope on Friday began a long-awaited "
pilgrimage of peace
" in the youngest state in the world, where famine, misery and floods are rife.
Read alsoSouth Sudan: 21 dead in an armed attack on the eve of the Pope's visit
From 2013 to 2018, this country of 12 million inhabitants, 60% of whom are Christians, was plagued by a bloody civil war between the supporters of the two enemy leaders Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, which left 380,000 dead.
Despite a peace agreement signed in 2018, violence continues and the country had 2.2 million internally displaced people in December, according to the latest figures published by the UN organization OCHA.
Unfortunately, in this martyred country, being displaced or a refugee has become a habitual and collective experience
", lamented François, after hearing the testimonies of three young people who recounted the difficulty of life in the camps.
I am with you, I suffer for you and with you
," he said, warning against the "
" of this "
Saturday morning, the sovereign pontiff spoke in front of the Catholic community at Sainte-Thérèse cathedral, in the presence of 5,000 faithful according to the authorities, who welcomed him with songs and dinghies in a festive atmosphere.
Read alsoMore than 420,000 people displaced or affected by floods in South Sudan
It's all about peace.
Pope Francis can't even walk, but he still comes here to encourage our leaders
,” 24-year-old John Makuei told AFP.
At the end of the afternoon, Francis will participate in an ecumenical prayer alongside the heads of the Churches of England and Scotland, representatives of the two other Christian denominations, at the John Garang Mausoleum where the crowd was already waiting in the middle of the day, under a blazing sun.
On Friday, the pope had already urged the political class to a "
" for peace and castigated the scourge of corruption.
(...) Future generations will honor or erase the memory of your names depending on what you do now
,” the 86-year-old pope warned.
The UN and the international community regularly accuse South Sudanese leaders of maintaining a status quo, stoking violence, suppressing political freedoms and embezzling public funds.
In 2019, Francis had received the two enemy brothers Salva Kiir and Riek Machar at the Vatican and knelt down to kiss their feet, begging them to make peace, a strong gesture which had not yet been followed by concrete progress. .
It is the first papal visit to South Sudan since the nation, which has more than 60 ethnic groups, gained independence from Sudan in 2011. The Church plays a surrogate role in areas without any government service and where aid workers are often attacked and even killed.
Read alsoIn Africa, Pope Francis “shocked” by the violence suffered and told by young survivors
This trip follows a four-day visit to Kinshasa, where the pope condemned the "
" perpetrated in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, plagued by abuses by armed groups that have left hundreds of thousands of dead.
Initially scheduled for the summer of 2022 and then postponed, this visit is the Argentine pope's 40th abroad since his election in 2013 and the third in sub-Saharan Africa.