In a letter to the South Sudan Council of Churches and member churches in South Sudan, World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit conveyed the WCC’s great relief and gratitude to God that the long-delayed establishment of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity in South Sudan was finally achieved on 22 February.
"I celebrate the spirit of compromise on contentious issues that finally made the formation of this unity government possible, giving renewed hope to the people of South Sudan of the peace and security that they have so long been denied,” wrote Tveit. “Now, however – along with the rest of the world – South Sudan faces a grave new challenge: the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The destruction of South Sudan’s infrastructure through long years of war, instability and corruption has left its people highly vulnerable to this new and unprecedented threat to public health, Tveit wrote. “I pray that the leaders of South Sudan’s new government will take the proper measures to protect the people and to support them through this crisis,” he wrote. “Borders have been closed and a nationwide curfew declared, but these measures, though necessary in the fight against the virus, will also worsen the existing humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, with so many people displaced, impoverished and dependent upon external aid.”
Tveit urged the government to move swiftly to appoint governors and establish effective local administrations so as to fill the existing vacuum of local governance. “In that vacuum, inter-communal conflicts, insecurity, lack of access to food, shelter and essential services, and endemic corruption have continued to prevail,” he wrote. “And in the absence of effective local governance and coordination of the pandemic response, the virus will proliferate."
The WCC has long supported the work of the churches and the South Sudan Council of Churches for peace and reconciliation, Tveit concluded. “We will continue to accompany and support you in your efforts to mitigate the humanitarian and social impacts of this pandemic, and for the realization of the aspirations of all South Sudan’s people for peace, security and a better future than the past they have known,” he wrote. “I pray that God will bless you with courage, wisdom, health and strength for this task, and for your continued ministry and witness to the people of South Sudan.”