Catholic Nun in South Sudan Calls on Authorities to Go Beyond “unknown gunmen” Narrative

Sr. Rebecca Alioru who offers lectures in English, literature and drama at the Catholic University of South Sudan (CUSS).

A Catholic nun in South Sudan has expressed concerns over insecurity perpetrated by those only identified as “unknown gunmen,” calling on the political leaders in the East-Central African country to find identities of these attackers and to bring them to book.

“I have a great concern about these unknown gunmen and I wonder why they are unknown when they do a lot of destruction in broad daylight and have led to a lot of destruction and loss of lives,” Sr. Rebecca Alioru who offers lectures in English, literature and drama at the Catholic University of South Sudan (CUSS) said at a public lecture on Saturday, November 7.

The event was organized by the Justice and Peace Institute to mark the 10th anniversary of 101 Days of Catholic prayer for a peaceful South Sudan referendum in 2010.

The member of the congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (SHS) said the fact that the identity of the attackers is kept in the dark compromises all efforts put in place to realize growth in South Sudan.


“If these unknown gunmen in the country are not found and punished, the referendum choice of self-determination in 2010, of an independent country in 2011 continues to lose meaning,” the South Sudanese nun said.

The nine-year-old country has been suffering a spiraling civil war since December 2013 and despite peace accords signed by the government and opposition leaders, it remains riddled with ethnic grievances and awash with weapons.

“What disturbs me a lot is that there is no serious follow up about unknown gunmen so that they can be brought to book,” Sr. Rebecca said, and added, “And because of not having follow up, many of them continue with their activities.”

Sr. Rebecca further said, “The political leaders really need to make a close follow up of these unknown gunmen so that when a person is murdered, a complete investigation (is) made to nab at the culprit.”

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She reiterated her concerns saying that it is unfair that “unknown gunmen” do whatever they do and later the authorities do not closely follow them up.

“It is very disturbing because we keep losing very important people; just yesterday, we got the news that the so-called unknown gunmen killed one of the cousins of our Sister of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” she bemoaned, adding, “And many other people have fallen prey to that group.”

In 2010, the Catholic Church launched a 101-Day prayer for peace campaign, under the slogan, “Change your heart, change the world,” to be carried out between September 21, 2010 and January 1, 2011.

The November 7 memorial was meant to reinforce the significance of peace in South Sudan. 



According to the South Sudanese member of SHS, the world’s youngest nation “still needs prayer that will ensure that this insecurity come to an end in the country.”

She urged the youth to cooperate in putting faces to the unknown gunmen who she said “are playing with the lives of innocent people.”

“I am sure there are some (youth) who may know and because of fear, may not reveal these unknown gunmen,” Sr. Rebecca said, and added, “I urge them to develop the spirit of patriotism, love for their country and have the concern to give any information that (they) may deem useful in finding these men to the people in authority.”

Responding to Sr. Rebecca, the Church Parliamentary Liaison Officer Mr. Isaac Kenyi Kungur attributed the challenge of insecurity to gun ownership in the country saying, “We do not have the gun factories in South Sudan and the only people who have the guns are government institutions.”

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“Saying that the gunmen in South Sudan are unknown is not factual. The men are known; they can be identified; but only that people do not want to address the issue,” said Kenyi.

He reiterated, “The government in South Sudan knows exactly who has the guns and who does not have the guns because the people do not have gun factories in South Sudan.”