Help Rescue South Sudanese “on brink of destitution, slowly perishing”, Bishops Appeal

A camp for Internally Displaced Persons in Renk, South Sudan. Credit: Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development (DPIHD)

The people of God in South Sudan are in urgent need of external support, the President of the Integral Human Development Commission of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC) has said.

In a letter addressed to “The Head of Caritas Network, people of good will, and International Community”, Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala describes the desperate situation of his compatriots, who he says are “on the brink of destitution” and that they are “slowly perishing” amid challenges occasioned by violent conflicts and COVID-19.

“Our people continue to suffer the effects of complex emergencies which are still being experienced in many parts of the country, including those parts that had previously been peaceful,” Bishop Hiiboro says in his three-page letter dated March 8.

The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) “has increased tremendously across the country”, he says, adding that these are South Sudanese “living in deplorable conditions, and are starving”.

The Local Ordinary of South Sudan’s Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambia (CDTY) highlights “women, children, the aged, and people living with disabilities” as those bearing the brunt of the deplorable conditions in the East-Central African nation.


He paints a grim picture of the situation of women, girls, and children in the world’s newest and youngest country that gained independence from Sudan in July 2011. 

“Consider the South Sudanese mother who watches her child die because of malnutrition caused by severe hunger, the young man who dies in the hospital because there is no medicine to treat him, the 9-year-old girl who, for a piece of 'bambe' (potato), is forced to sell her body, and the emaciated old woman who is lying inside her ramshackle hut awaiting death to take away her suffering.”

“Those still living in their homesteads are equally facing starvation since most of them have had to, ironically, abandon their sources of livelihood in a bid to save their lives,” he says, and adds, “Most school-going children have had to drop out of school because of insecurity and fear of being forcefully recruited to serve as soldiers in the conflicts.”

The President of SCBC’s Commission for Integral Human Development since his election during the 20-25 November 2023 SCBC Annual Plenary Assembly laments the growing number of street children from “the majority of these out- of-school children”, and cautions, “This menace of rising numbers of street children, if not addressed immediately, will impact negatively on the country's security.”

“For lack of learners and teachers in schools, most government-run schools have had to suspend their services, and have become homes for the IDPs,” he adds, emphasizing the myriad of challenges in South Sudan. 

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These challenges are compounded by earlier negative effects of COVID-19 restrictions, Bishop Hiiboro further laments, and explains, “South Sudan is also still struggling to overcome the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which saw our already fragile economy come to a near collapse.”

“COVID-19 saw many people lose their jobs and livelihoods, causing those who were previously self-reliant to become dependent on well-wishers,” he says.

The challenges of the people of God in South Sudan have worsened by the country’s “skyrocketing inflation”, Bishop Hiiboro notes, adding that “many people can no longer afford to buy even the cheapest of foodstuff. As a result, the poverty levels in the country have increased, with the number of families going hungry escalating.”

“The state of calamities in the country has been worsened by floods in some areas and severe drought in others,” he says, and further laments, “The country, South Sudan, seems to be going round in circles from one calamity to the next and back. The saddest reality is our inability to overcome the effects of these calamities and cushion our people against them.”

The President of the Commission for Integral Human Development of SCBC that brings together Catholic Bishops in Sudan and South Sudan appeals for external support from Caritas network, members of the international community, and people of good will.


These organizations and those touched by the highlighted situation and have any means, he says, should “consider stepping in and coming to the rescue of the people of South Sudan, who are on the brink of destitution, following their great suffering.”

“It is no longer about the country and its leadership, but about the people of South Sudan who are slowly perishing,” Bishop Hiiboro says. 

He goes on to warn, “Unless cushioned from these calamities, we are afraid that our people will not survive especially because the majority of the population (64%) are helpless youths who have no source of income, while most of the remaining 36% are elderly persons.”

“The situation is dire and therefore in need of urgent intervention,” the Local Ordinary of CDTY since his Episcopal Consecration in June 2008 emphasizes.

Any support to the people of God in South Sudan is in line with God’s command for solidarity among people, he says referring to Proverbs 3: 27 and Galatians 6:2.

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“Your collective generosity and solidarity will therefore make a tangible difference in saving lives, restoring hope, and fostering resilience in our nation,” Bishop Hiiboro says, and further appeals for support that will help South Sudan “address the root cause of the recurring conflicts” so that South Sudanese “can enjoy lasting peace.”

In his March 8 letter, the President of SCBC’s Commission for Integral Human Development acknowledges with appreciation the support of the international community over the years.

“You have been our anchor amid troubled waters, and we can only say thank you and pray that the good God may reward you in ways that only He can,” Bishop Hiiboro says.

He further appeals to “Caritas network, people of goodwill, and the international community to not get tired of our knocking on your doors once again and again. This is because you are our only hope and therefore light at the end of the tunnel. The people of South Sudan shall appreciate whatever support you accord us in whatever manner that you deem fit.”

“May the God of peace be with you and provide for you even as you propose to support people and mitigate their sufferings,” he implores in his March 8 letter.

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