"Be guided by Spirit of peace in your mission”: Nun to Sudan Sudan’s First Unified Troops

The first batch of the unified armed forces. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The first unified troops who graduated on August 30 in South Sudan need to be guided by the “Spirit of peace” for a successful mission, a Catholic Nun serving in the country’s Catholic Diocese of Malakal has said.

On August 30, South Sudan graduated over 21,000 new troops that are to constitute a unified national army, police, and other forces of security as part of the implementation of the country’s September 2018 Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS).

In an interview with ACI Africa, Sr. Elena Balatti said, “The priority task of these forces is to defend the lives of civilians, their property, and the country as a whole.”

“I do hope and pray that the troops will be guided by the spirit of peace in carrying out their duties,” Sr. Balatti told ACI Africa September 8.

In fostering the spirit of peace in their service, the member of the Comboni Missionary Sisters (CMS) added, “some of the reasons that are generating the conflicts will be avoided.”


These conflicts, she said, are “linked to small interests usually by individuals, ethnic groups or tribes.”

“Their interest is always smaller compared to the interest of the nation,” the Coordinator of the department of Integral Human Development in South Sudan’s Malakal Diocese (Caritas Malakal) said.

She encouraged members of the first unified troops to “live their national identity, and they must represent the identity of the nation as the nation's forces."

“I hope that … people will not be afraid but will trust these forces more,” Sr. Balatti said. 

She challenged the South Sudanese government to take into account the remuneration of the troops that graduated, saying, “If they're paid well or if they get enough to cover their needs, then even political leaders will benefit from having a strong army.”

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The Italian-born CMS member explained, “Each human being needs to satisfy his or her basic needs and the number of people inside the graduated forces are married people and they have to think about their families.”  

The Catholic nun who started her missionary service in Sudan in 1994 further said, “I hope the heads of political and military leaders will listen to the voices of people and provide the necessary support to the troops.”

Speaking on the occasion of the South Sudan’s first unified troops graduation, the Catholic Archbishop of Juba called upon members unified troops to foster integrity in their security service.

“We pray that they do their work with honor and integrity,” Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin said during the August 30 event that was presided over by the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir at Dr. John Garang Mausoleum in Juba.

The South Sudanese Archbishop added, “I pray to God to give them wisdom so that they might revive in their hearts, the Christian sense of forgiveness, peace and reconciliation.”


On September 1, a member of the Clergy of South Sudan’s Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio (CDTY) cautioned the first unified troops against extra judicial killing. 

“We want to see these troops work for the protection of civilians and not to begin killing each other again because they are trained for protection.” Fr. Dominic Sasa told ACI Africa.

Fr. Sasa added, “The graduation of the forces is the way that calls for the total unity we have been looking for because no political party will protect this country.”

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.