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Published on 14 November, 2011

Samaritan’s Purse Refugee Camp bombed

Sudan (MNN) — The United States condemned Thursday's bombardment of
a refugee camp by the Sudanese armed forces of the southern town of Yida.

Ken Isaacs, Samaritan's Purse Vice President of Programs and government
Relations, spoke to MNN from the camp via satellite phone. "The World Food Program landed a
helicopter with 12 tons of food in it. When the helicopter took off after it
was off-loaded, a bomber came over and dropped four bombs on the refugee
camp."

Over 23,000 people are living in the camp in the northernmost part
of Unity State, after being displaced by fighting across the border in the Nuba
Mountains of South Kordofan State. A
team from Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse ministry works there distributing food
and other supplies. Samaritan's Purse staff was present
along with a handful of UN workers and journalists when the bombing run
started.

Four bombs were dropped. One bomb hit the marketplace, and two
others fell on the fringe of the camp. Isaacs says, "The fourth one actually fell
in the middle of the camp, in a schoolyard that had nearly 300 children in it. It
was a miracle that the bomb didn't go off. It hit a big tree limb, probably
10-inches around. It took the tree limb out, and the bomb sat there in
the ground halfway through the wall of the grass hut classroom."

All of Samaritan's Purse staff have been accounted for and are
safe. There is a report that 12 people died in the attack, but they have not
been able to confirm the casualties among the refugees. However, blame for it
is landing at the feet of Sudan's Khartoum government. Isaacs explains, "The government of Sudan is the only one
with high altitude aircraft like that in this part of the world. It has been a
pattern of the government of Sudan, throughout the war with South Sudan,
to bomb areas during food
distributions."

The violence has been rising steadily and may point to a possible
border attack from Sudan. "This has all just started in the last four
days, so there's clearly a pattern starting. There is speculation that it's
going to get worse." Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham,
who visited the camp six days before the bombing, called for the world to take
action in the immediate aftermath of the most recent attack.    

The
refugees are stranded in a swampy area in Unity State near the border between
South Sudan and Sudan. The camp has been accessible only by plane because the
rainy season washed out the roads, making fleeing a moot point.

The largely-Christian South Sudan became independent from the
Islamic northern part of the country four months ago. However, as to the question of persecution,
Isaacs doesn't think the root issue is religicide. It's more likely motivated by the loss of oil
to South Sudan. That doesn't mean there
aren't religious overtones. "Clearly, the government of Sudan uses
religion to brutalize people and to motivate their fighters to launch attacks."

Where does the Gospel come into play in a scenario like this? As Samaritan's Purse teams work in crisis areas of
the world, people often ask, "Why did you come?" The answer is always
the same: "We have come to help you in the Name of the Lord Jesus
Christ."

While Samaritan's Purse's ministry is all about Jesus–first,
last, and always, Isaacs says, "Pray for
Samaritan's Purse staff. We're the only organization that's working here now.
All of the UN people pulled out; the other agencies pulled out. Ten of our
staff are still here."

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  • Primary Religion: Islam
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