Catholic Entity in South Sudan Spearheading Dialogue, Reconciliation to End Conflict

Fr. Charles Mbikoyo. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CODEP), the social wing of the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio (CDTY), is spearheading dialogue and reconciliation among communities in conflict in the South Sudanese Diocese, the Director of the Catholic entity has said. 

In an interview with ACI Africa Thursday, August 4, Fr. Charles Mbikoyo said the initiative that is aimed at re-establishing peace and trust among the people of God in the CDTY is being coordinated from CODEP office in the Deanery of Tombura.

“We are trying to prepare ground for dialogue and reconciliation that will bring the different communities together to have space for peace and to build confidence as well as giving them hope,” Fr. Mbikoyo said.

He added, “We are going to extend our coordination offices in the six Deaneries, and one of these deaneries is in Tombura. This coordination office will make our presence felt on the ground for peace activities.”

“Our country is full of war, conflict and tribal tension and because of that we don’t have the peace we want,” the South Sudanese Catholic Priest said, and added, “Our organization under Tombura-Yambio Diocese will try to build trust among the communities and building confidence in the people who have lost hope from what had happened in the State.”


In June last year, religious leaders serving in South Sudan’s Western Equatoria State condemned “in the strongest terms possible” violence between members of the Azande and Balanda communities in Tombura County, a territory covered by the CDTY.

“It is very disheartening to see that the once peaceful communities are turning against each other,” the faith leaders said in their 24 June 2021 statement.

In an audio recording shared with ACI Africa 25 June 2021, the Local Ordinary of the CDTY, Bishop Edward Hiiboro Kussala regretted the fact that due to the violent conflict, most of the Parishes in his Episcopal See were hosting Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

“All of us, all the intellectuals, all the elders, all the youth, all the members of the families, women and men, let us mobilize our efforts towards Tombura and get this problem finished,” Bishop Hiiboro said in reference to the violent conflict in the South Sudanese Diocese.

In the interview with ACI Africa August 4, the Director of the social wing of the CDTY said, “All of us know what happened in Tombura, the intercommunal conflicts which displaced many people. We have many internally displaced persons in Ezo, Tombura, Yambio and other places within the State.”

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“To bring peace among these communities, the Church is putting efforts in partnership with other organizations and the government to make sure that peace is realized in Tombura,” the Director of CODEP further said. .

A  July 31 report indicates that the CODEP unveiled a new plan to open coordination offices in the six Deaneries of the CDTY in view of overseeing the different activities of the Diocese.

“We are now planning to go to Tombura for peace building activities there and to build confidence and give hope to our people especially the IDPs if they return home in the future (when) the situation is calm,” Fr. Mbikoyo told ACI during the August 4 interview.

He added, “Once we are on the ground, it will give hope to the people there but if there is no organization on the ground, the communities will tend to lose hope that they are left alone.”

“We will also start giving people psychosocial support, counseling, giving confidence in them and involve them in dialogue to talk about peace,” the member of the Clergy of the CDTY said, adding “All the people on the ground will be engaged in the peace building so that they begin to come back in their normal lives to see hope.”


Fr. Mbikoyo regretted the fact that “the situation of the IDPs is not good because they are getting limited food from the organizations (and have) no proper education facilities and water points.”

“They are in need of food and nonfood items, and they also need structures and school structures for their children to learn,” he said in reference to IDPs, and continued, “Since it's the rainy season and the children are learning under the tree, it will interrupt their lesson when it’s raining.”

To help meet the needs of the IDPs, the Director of CODEP called for assistance from partners. 

“We will try to knock the door of our partners to join us to see how we can support the IDPs and the host community,” he said, adding provision of “food and non-food items” will be a source of hope considering that “many people have lost their houses.”

He underscored the need for the support to include the facilitation of formal education.

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Fr. Mbikoyo said in reference to IDPs, “We want to see a way to support them, not only with the items but education as well. When we go to Tombura we shall engage our teachers to see how to resurrect education.”

“Caritas South Sudan recently supported us to distribute farming tools to the IDPs in Ezo, and food items to the IDPs in Yambio,” he added. 

The South Sudanese Priest further called on the warring groups to “abandon conflicts and come together to build the nation as well as planting the seed of peace.”

“Much as we talk about peace, we have to support our people to engage in peace related activities that will finally bring all of us together as the people of God in this country,” he told ACI Africa during the August 4 interview.

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.