“The Church calls on you to educate our people and let them know that the solution is with them,” the representatives of the mainstream churches in South Sudan implored.
They said that everyone, from the highly populated areas including the camps of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees and the far-off rural areas with poor infrastructure and limited access to communication services require innovative, robust and sustained collective public outreach.
Making an appeal in their capacity as also the combined national religious taskforce on COVID-19, SSCC leadership expressed apprehension “that many people continue to live their lives with complete disregard for the severity of the threats of the COVID 19 pandemic.”
They emphasized, “As citizens of this fragile young but promising nation, each one of us has a national obligation to join hands with one another, in one accord, to protect ourselves and our beloved fellow citizens from the disease.”
Furthermore, SSCC leaders say, unrestricted spread of the disease has the capacity to shift the focus on the implementation of the incumbent peace agreement.
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Hinting on uncertainties surrounding the peace agreement and formation of a unity government realized on February 22, the church leaders said, “We note with deep concern that uncontrolled spread of the COVID 19 pandemic has the potential to derail the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.”
The leaders encouraged the government of the landlocked African state “to set aside as much resources as it can to effectively facilitate an effective and robust overall response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.”
They added, an additional call on the unity government, to expedite the formation of the whole administration in the country.
“The Church is deeply concerned in the delay of the formation of the Revitalized states and local governments,” the leaders said and added, “The massive work involved in addressing the COVID 19 pandemic requires an enabling administrative structure that can effectively coordinate interventions.”
Advocating for a favorable environment in the country, SSCC officials appealed to the political leaders, both the signatories and non-signatories to the peace agreement, to end military confrontations “for successful prevention and elimination of COVID 19.”
“Cease all military confrontations and adhere to the provisions of the Permanent Ceasefire and the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement so as to create a conducive environment for successful prevention and elimination of COVID 19,” the church leaders said.
“Let us individually and collectively use our unique God-given gifts and capacities to contribute to the elimination of the COVID-19 in South Sudan,” the church leaders stated at the end of their 5-page statement.
Terming it a prophetic voice, the officials of the Juba-based SSCC appealed to the citizens to stop gathering in funerals, family functions, tea places, bars, restaurants and social discussion groupings in towns.
They expressed optimism saying, “There is still hope in the good news of the Gospel. As it was in the early Church, a vulnerable community at threat of persecution and hardship, St. Paul wrote to the people of Rome.”
“We are all called to the service of God – each one of us individually – and together as one people, one nation and one divine creation of God,” the church leaders concluded their pastoral statement.