South Sudan (MNN) – The government’s attempts to establish peace last month (read more about that here) have done little to stop the violence in South Sudan. Human Rights Watch published a report last week about the particular violence hitting the western region in and around the town of Wau.
Matt Parker, president of Kids Alive International, says, “There are disturbing reports from the town of Wau and the surrounding region that South Sudanese government troops have been killing and torturing citizens in the town and in the area.”
Women have been raped, homes looted and burned, and the community is living in fear with rumors of violence to come circulating at all times.
“This has been something that’s been going on for a few months, and this is despite the fact that a month or two ago, a national unity government came into effect,” Parker says.
Parker received a report from one of their directors in Wau saying shootings were happening on a regular basis—often at random, with people being killed as they stand outside their homes.
“There’s been shooting around the location of our children’s home,” Parker says.
Bullets were shot into the front gate of the property.
“Obviously it’s a very serious situation, a very volatile situation and a situation that we’re monitoring very closely, obviously with great concern with the kids that we work with, but then in that whole community that we serve in this area,” Parker says.
There are high walls around the children’s home and limited movement outside of the property. Each rumor of coming violence is monitored closely.
Parker says the whole community is wrapped in fear.
Human Rights Watch has called for a stop to the violence from the government soldiers.
Daniel Bekele, Africa director at HRM, says, “With all eyes on the new national unity government in Juba, government soldiers have been literally getting away with murder in the country’s western regions.”
Parker agrees, saying, “There needs to be a very clear directive from the government in South Sudan. This is just not acceptable.”
The children have not escaped from this sense of fear, but the staff at Kids Alive are sharing a message of hope with them.
“No matter what’s going on around them, no matter how much uncertainty there is in life, they have a God who cares deeply about them.”
God’s work has been very evident, showing up in the lives of these children as they learn to trust him despite difficult situations.
“Our desire as an organization is to be light in the darkness,” Parker says.
He asks you to pray to this end, and for the conflict in South Sudan to end in peace.
And for the children they serve, many of whom have been rescued from abandonment, poverty and life on the streets, he says:
“This is the main thing that keeps me awake at night when I think of our kids being in that situation with so much uncertainty around them. Please pray the protection of our kids and of our staff as well. Pray that our kids would really come to know the Lord and continue to grow in the knowledge and understanding of who he is and how much he loves them.”
And finally, ask God to expand the work of Kids Alive despite the ongoing tension so that it can reach more children in need.