Interview with Gabriel Yai Avop, Director of Caritas South Sudan, the newest Caritas member which the Caritas Confederation voted unanimously to join the network.
Q: What are your hopes for the newly-formed Caritas South Sudan?
A: I hope to build a strong Caritas in South Sudan. We are still facing challenges and there are emergencies happening here, both man-made emergencies like conflict and natural emergencies like the food crisis as well. I hope that we will be supported locally, as well as internationally, by the Caritas network so that we can successfully carry out our charity work in South Sudan.
Q: What challenges do you face?
A: Since we are still new, the first challenge is to ensure that the new Caritas South Sudan is financially stable. The big challenge, though, is related to the situation in the country and the ongoing political crisis.
Q: What do you plan to achieve in your first year?
A: During the first year I will be working to have good relationships with our partners, both inside and outside the country, to build trust. We will ensure that the funding is going to the people who need it most.
Q: How will you be working within the Caritas network in South Sudan?
A: First, I would like to thank the Caritas Confederation for their trust and voting unanimously for South Sudan to be the newest member. As Caritas members in South Sudan we need to work as one team. We already have a Caritas forum for South Sudan that has been meeting every month. We will hold events during the year with partners across the country to discuss issues they are facing.
Q: What message would you share with those concerned about the humanitarian situation in South Sudan?
A: The crisis that started in 2013 has primarily affected three states, Jonglei, Upper Nile State and Unity State, as well as the capital Juba in the very beginning. We have had two emergency appeals, a short one for three months, which has now closed, and a second emergency appeal through Caritas Internationalis. We have only 15 percent of the total amount that we need, so we will ask members to help in the coming months if possible. We are working across seven dioceses and trying our best to reach many people who are impacted by the emergency.
We are facing a food crisis, as most people were unable to cultivate their crops because they were in the United Nations camps for internally displaced people and did not travel back to their farms when it was time to plant. There are other problems that make the situation worse – there is inflation in the country, a lack of fuel and the prices of commodities are going up as well. Life is very difficult, particularly for the most vulnerable.