South Sudan (MNN) — The good news: mediators in Ethiopia say yesterday was the deadline for South Sudan’s government and rebels to sign a ceasefire. Jed Hamoud, Vice President of Operations at Kids Alive International says, “That is exciting news: the fact that they are at least talking about a truce. Hopefully, that’s the first step toward ending the fighting.”
The bad news: “The reality is that they might sign the truce today, but we all know that this might take days or weeks before it really gets implemented, where life gets back to ‘normal.’”
Talks stalled over the issue of 11 political detainees whom the rebels wanted freed before they entertained a ceasefire. Meanwhile, more than 500,000 people were displaced during the month-long conflict. Last week, the UN human rights chief said both government soldiers and rebels had committed atrocities in South Sudan, one of the world’s poorest countries.
What’s more, for those who remained anywhere in South Sudan, survival was difficult, especially with the fear that the violence would spread. Hamoud explains that for safety reasons, they had to make some tough decisions about their children’s homes in Wau, nearly 400 miles away from Juba, the capital city. “Supplies are very hard to find, and commodities are rare. This has been a hardship. We actually had to send the children to their relatives or guardians just for their safety, for their protection.”
Hamoud went on to explain why this was so hard. “You have to remember: a lot of those children come from families that are dysfunctional or impoverished. Their means to take care of the kids is very limited, as well. We’re anxious to have those kids back in our care so we can provide them with what they need.” However, the staff was in agreement: evacuation seemed smarter. “We feel that if we had the children all in one place, they would be an easy target for some group.”
Now that the ceasefire seems like it’s going to be a reality, Hamoud says, “We’re hoping that we can bring all the kids back into the home because of the signing of the peace treaty that’s been talked about for a while. We hope that they will be back this week, but it looks like they most likely will be back sometime next week.”
The focus of Kids Alive is on the entire child. Just like Jesus, their teams are concerned about the empty stomachs of children as much as their empty hearts. They focus on meeting the physical, emotional, AND spiritual needs of each child through Christ-centered care, education, and ministry.
Resuming this work is a priority. Hamoud adds, “The prayer is that the signing of the peace treaty will really hold, that the situation in the country will go back to normal so we can bring the kids back into the home [and] bring the leadership back to the ministry.”
If you want to come alongside Kids Alive in South Sudan, you can explore their work by clicking here.