“Prevent any stigmatization” of Families of Missing Persons: Church Leaders in South Sudan

Logo South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC). Credit: SSCC

On the International Day of the Disappeared marked August 30, Church leaders in South Sudan urged citizens not to stigmatize families of missing persons.

In a statement obtained by ACI Africa Thursday, September 1, members of the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) say, “Families of the missing persons should know that they are not alone and their loved ones are not forgotten.”

“All churches and God-fearing people should stand in solidarity with and address the families of the missing persons and their sufferings in their masses and prayers, as families of the missing person’s relief in their religion,” they say in the statement dated August 29.

SSCC members add, “All churches and the church leaders are aware of the rights and needs of families of missing persons and prevent any stigmatization they face.”

“Church leaders care for the children of the missing persons, to assist them with social inclusion, access to education and relief to suffering,'' they say in their two-page statement.


The church leaders in South Sudan continue, “Children should not be left alone to cope with the pain of their missing parents. Communities, societies and institutions of South Sudan must acknowledge the suffering of the families of the missing persons and stand with them.”

“Decades of armed conflicts, violence, arbitrary deprivation of liberty, lack of dignified management of the dead, seasonal natural disasters and migration leads to persons becoming missing,” SSCC members say.

They note that “the never-ending uncertainty, expectancy and pain of the families of the missing persons pervade every aspect of their lives, not knowing what happened their loves ones and being unable to give them a dignified burial which remains an open wound, leaving little possibility for the families and communities to recover and move on.” 

“Religious faiths are guides for families to cope with their sufferings related to the disappearance of their loved ones. Religion played an integral role in supporting families of missing persons to cope with suffering and despair,” they say.

The church leaders in South Sudan call for the “establishment of an association for the families of the disappeared.”

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There is need, they add, for “all stakeholders such as youth, civil society organizations, and humanitarian organizations including Red Cross and community leaders to assist the families of the missing persons with their economic, legal and administrative problem, mental health related needs, their plight for recognition and create awareness of their suffering.”

Commemorated every year on August 30, the International Day of the Disappeared seeks to raise awareness about the numbers of enforced disappearances around the world.

In an August 29 report, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) estimates over 5,000 cases of missing persons in South Sudan.

In their August 29 statement, SSCC member urge the South Sudanese government “to clarify the fate of the missing persons through possible means.”

“Until the families have an answer, the wait for their loved ones and their suffering will go on because time doesn’t heal and answer,” they say.


The church leaders further say, “The government should recognize the plight families of missing persons in South Sudan and provide them with care and assistance, legal and economic support, health and educational services, sustainable and dignified livelihood opportunities.”  

“Comprehensive legislation for missing persons and their families must be adopted,” SSCC members say.

The government of South Sudan, they add, “and all the communities should make efforts to prevent anyone from going missing. Peace and security contribute in preventing disappearance and finding answers to the fate of the missing persons.”

Patrick Juma Wani is a South Sudanese journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. Patrick holds a Diploma in Journalism and Mass Communication from Makerere Institute for Social Development (MISD) in Uganda. He has over 7 years of extensive experience in leading the development and implementation of media, advocacy, communication and multimedia strategy and operations, with an excellent track record of editorial leadership, budget management, and stakeholder outreach. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.