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Christian church leader in South Sudan have called for peace after violence flared in the capital Juba on 15 December and has spread north to Bor, the site of an ethnic massacre in 1991.
Sparked by infighting within the ruling SPLM party, the conflict has taken on an ethnic dimension with fears the conflict may escalate into a civil war.
“There is a political problem between leaders within the SPLM. This should not be turned into an ethnic problem,” said Catholic Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro of Juba, on behalf of the religious leaders.
“Sadly, on the ground it is developing into tribalism. This must be defused urgently before it spreads,” he said.
Thousands of people sought safety in UN bases and church buildings and the main hospital struggled to cope with influx of injured.
The Christian church leaders called on the government, UN and NGOs to provide humanitarian assistance to the displaced civilians in Juba, and to ensure that water and food are available for the population.
“Violence is not an acceptable way of resolving disputes. This must be done in a peaceful and civilised manner,” said Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro.“Reconciliation is at the heart of the Church’s ministry, a key Gospel value, and so we offer ourselves as mediators.
“As we celebrate the birth of the Christ-child, let us remember that God is with us, and pray for the strength and courage to bring peace, reconciliation and healing to our new nation.”
Caritas members in South Sudan have a wide range of humaniatarian, development and peacebuilding programmes in South Sudan, where they work with local communities to build the newly born nation.