THE Archbishop of Canterbury is to travel to Sudan this weekend to preside over its inauguration as an autonomous Province of the Anglican Communion.
Archbishop Welby will meet the new Primate of Sudan, the Most Revd Ezekiel Kumir Kondo, Bishop of Khartoum, at the service of inauguration in All Saints’ Cathedral, Khartoum, on Sunday, when Sudan will become the 39th Province of the Anglican Communion.
The purpose of the visit is to bring “encouragement and hope” to the people of the region, the Archbishop’s Adviser for Anglican Communion Affairs, the Rt Revd Anthony Poggo, said.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 (News, 15 July 2011), and the title of the Primate, the Most Revd Daniel Deng, was changed to that of Sudan and South Sudan. The four-and-a-half million members of the Episcopal Church are mainly in South Sudan.
Archbishop Kondo was enthroned as the first Archbishop of Sudan in 2014 for a new internal province, made up of five dioceses. He was appointed Primate of the new Province earlier this year, after a formal application for autonomy, put forward by South Sudan, was approved by the Anglican Consultative Council (News, 17 March).
The headquarters of the Province of South Sudan are in Juba, where the Archbishop and Primate of South Sudan is based. “After the independence of South Sudan, it was problematic for him to come to Khartoum to undertake his role as Primate,” Bishop Poggo explained.
“It is easier and better for everything to be run by the new Primate of Sudan — which is one of the reasons the new Province has been set up. There will be challenges, but it will be more easily solved by the Sudanese people rather than a Primate who is based in Juba.”
Archbishop Welby will arrive in Khartoum, on Saturday, and travel to the diocese of Kadugli & the Nuba Mountains — one of five dioceses making up the new Province of Sudan — in the south of the country. He will open a new diocesan office.
On Monday, Archbishop Welby will meet religious and government leaders in Sudan, whose names are yet to be confirmed. He will be raising the issue of freedom of religion, and addressing both Christian and Muslim groups during the trip, Bishop Poggo said. No restrictions regarding where the Archbishop would be able to visit were expected, but any security concerns raised by the Sudanese government would be upheld.
The Archbishop will then travel to northern Uganda to meet some of the 900,000 Sudanese refugees residing in the districts of Moyo and Adjumani. Most of the 1.9 million refugees who have fled from South Sudan are in Uganda, but there are also refugees in the neighbouring countries of Kenya, Sudan, Congo, Southern Africa, and Ethiopia.
Bishop Poggo, who was previously the Bishop of Kajo-Keji in South Sudan, said that more than 90 per cent of the population of his former diocese had been forced into Uganda in the past year. “This shows you . . . the effect the conflict is having on the population in that region,” he said.
The visit would be an opportunity for the Archbishop to raise awareness in the international community of the suffering of refugees, and to promote peace and reconciliation.
The Church was key to reconciliation in the country, Bishop Poggo said, although the conflict was political, not religious.
Archbishop Welby last visited South Sudan and Uganda in January 2014, at the invitation of the Primates (News, 7 February 2014). He visited Bor, the first region to fall to rebel control when the civil conflict began the previous year. The town was completely destroyed by the fighting, and the dead had not been buried.
The Archbishop will be hosted by the Primate of Uganda, the Most Revd Stanley Ntagali. He will return to the UK on Thursday. Bishop Poggo said that separate plans for the Archbishop’s visit to South Sudan with Pope Francis were still in place, but the visit had been postponed (News, 3 March).
CAFOD/DAVID MUTUASiblings carry sacks of food received during aid distribution in Yirol State, South Sudan, in March of this year. After more than three years of conflict in the world’s youngest country, malnutrition has increased, and the charities CAFOD and Trocaire warn that people are at risk of starvation.
Child refugees need support. OF THE more than 150,000 child refugees living in mass settlements in northern Uganda, after fleeing violence in neighbouring South Sudan, all will require some form of psychological support in the future, the aid agency World Vision has reported.
Psychologists and child-welfare experts working with the agency reported this week that nearly all children had required some form of psychosocial support on arrival at the settlements, and that 60 per cent had required urgent specialist therapy to treat the effects of conflict-related stress disorders.
Most children had suffered and witnessed “terrible brutality” in South Sudan, a child-protection facilitator for World Vision, Brenda Madrara, said. She works in Bidi Bidi refugee settlement, in northern Uganda.
“Most have witnessed killings and brutal violence. Some saw their parents murdered in front of them. . . If South Sudan’s children are not given the therapeutic interventions they need, it will affect generations to come.”
About 100 children a day are estimated to arrive at the camps, many of whom have been separated from their parents, and show symptoms of trauma, including insomnia, regressive behaviour, social withdrawal, and “violent or self-destructive” outbursts.
“Trauma is like a wound — a silent wound,” said Dorothy Namara, a clinical psychologist at the Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation, which is a partner of World Vision. “When a silent wound is not treated, it keeps eating slowly. When trauma is not treated in early childhood, then it manifests in adulthood.”
World Vision has set up “child-friendly spaces” in five of the 14 refugee settlements in Uganda, and has supported more than 40,000 children through education and child-protection projects.
To highlight conflict trauma in children, the agency has also launched a campaign, #BearsOnStairs, by which 700 teddy bears, representing the number of child refugees who arrive in Uganda a week, were due to be placed on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral yesterday.