Pope Francis has sent a Christmas message to the political leaders in South Sudan, urging them to progress with the lugging peace process.
The Pope was joined by Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, the Reverend Martin Fair, in signing the Christmas message.
In April 2019, Pope Francis knelt and kissed the feet of South Sudan’s leaders at the Vatican to offer a concrete example of humble service.
Referencing that encounter in their message, the Pope with the other Christian leaders urged South Sudanese politicians to remember their commitments to bring their “country to a smooth implementation of the Peace Agreement.”
“We have been glad to see the small progress you have made, but know it is not enough for your people to feel the full effect of peace,” the message said.
Pope Francis, Archbishop Welby, and Reverend Fair repeated their desire to visit the country in order “to bear witness to a changed nation.”
They concluded their Christmas greetings praying that South Sudan’s political leaders might “know greater trust among themselves and a greater generosity of service to their people.”
South Sudan fell into a civil war not long after it gained independence from Sudan, which came in July 2011.
The conflict raged from 2013 until September 2018 and pitted the forces of President Salva Kiir—against those of his Vice President, Riek Machar.
The UN said over 400,000 people died in the civil war, another 250,000 fled their homes, and around half of the population of 11 million are left in dire poverty.
In September 2018, the peace process was restarted with the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan.
However, the situation remains complicated. The UN’s head of mission, David Shearer, recently reported to the UN Security Council that the peace accord is not being implemented as it should.
He said violence still afflicts large portions of the nation.
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