Pope Francis met 2,500 internally displaced persons during his visit to Juba, South Sudan, on Feb. 4, 2023. Elias Turk/CNA
“You, from all your different ethnic groups, you who have suffered and are still suffering, you who do not want to respond to evil with more evil. You, who choose fraternity and forgiveness, are even now cultivating a better tomorrow,” he encouraged those present.
“Be seeds of hope,” he said, “which make it possible for us already to glimpse the tree that one day, hopefully in the near future, will bear fruit.”
During the meeting, a video showed IDP camps in South Sudan and interviews with refugees who spoke about fleeing their homelands.
Pope Francis with Right Rev. Iain Greenshields (L) and Archbishop Justin Welby (R) during a meeting with refugees in Juba, South Sudan, on Feb. 4, 2023. Vatican Media
The encounter also included prayers led by the Moderator of the Church of Scotland Iain Greenshields and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who joined Pope Francis for a final blessing on the participants.
Sara Beysolow Nyanti, a representative of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, gave a presentation on the humanitarian situation in South Sudan, which she called “worrying.”
“For over a decade, the South Sudanese people have experienced conflict, social and political instability, climate shocks, violence, displacement, food insecurity, lack of education opportunities, and access to health care systems,” she said.
Pope Francis greets Sara Beysolow Nyanti, a representative of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, during a gathering with 2,500 internally displaced persons in Juba, South Sudan, on Feb. 4, 2023. Vatican Media
South Sudan has the largest refugee crisis in Africa, with 2 million IDPs due to conflict, insecurity, and environmental challenges, the U.N. Refugee Agency reports.