South Sudan (MNN) — More than six months after a peace treaty has been signed, with no firm date yet set for the launch of its transitional government, the South Sudan crisis continues.
The United Nations now estimates that more than 50,000 people have died in the war-torn area. Movement toward a unified government remains stalled, even as the country is admitted into the East Africa Community–an economic bloc of six member nations focusing on the development of fair trade practices.
For Kids Alive International team members working with street children in Wau, the impact of the continued delays has now been felt as violence has ravaged the traditionally peaceful village.
Matt Parker, president of the ministry, says the staff and kids have been kept safe, but prayers are greatly needed. “Wau is based upon a river, alongside a river, and a group came across the river and to the town carrying guns and started attacking one of the other tribes in the town. They were burning houses, killing people, looting houses as well and shops.
Matt says the situation is calmer now, and shops have reopened in the village. But the threat of more violence hangs like a dark cloud. “There is still a real sense of tension and a lot of rumors that that there might be another attack coming at some point in the near future, so it remains a very tense situation. Of course that’s really difficult for our staff and for our children during these times. We’re grateful for God’s protection, but as our director in South Sudan was telling me just a couple of days ago, we really need people’s prayers–continued prayers for that situation and for our ministry there. “
Though Kids Alive has connections with the UN and other organizations and is actively trying to build links with local government officials, it is the only organization providing quality care to street children in Wau. “Many of the kids who come to us are malnourished, need nutritious food and medical care. And so we are the only organization really that at the moment is providing for some of those needs: education that those kids need is absolutely critical, and of course the love of God, sharing with them the love that God has for them, and getting kids involved with local churches.”
What will it take to end the South Sudan crisis? Parker believes it’s summed up in one word: trust. “Both the government and the rebels are expressing that they want a transitional government, that they want to move forward. But the lack of trust means there are constant delays. There’s still hope, and discussions are still taking place. It’s absolutely essential that both the government and the rebels come to the table looking for just the right solution for South Sudanese people, putting aside some of their own selfish ambitions and interests for the sake of the people of South Sudan.”
Prayer is the priority for those wanting to support Kids Alive’s efforts in South Sudan. “Pray for a spirit of reconciliation that the government, that the various groups involved would really have a desire to find a peaceful solution and a positive way forth that they would put the people first. Pray for the continued protection of our staff and our kids. Pray that more lives will be changed, and that we’re rescuing more children from the street despite what is going on, despite the conflict, we’re committed to doing more, rescuing more kids in the coming months.”
Learn more about Kids Alive’s work in South Sudan and around the world here. And continue to follow Mission Network News for more updates on the peace process in South Sudan.