It has been five years since South Sudan has won its independence. Over the past few months there had been an attempt to form a coalition government in South Sudan. The aim was to incorporate the opposition party into the government.
Over the last four days or so there has been renewed conflict between the president’s supporters and the opposition. This conflict is happening on the streets of the capital city Juba near the Presidential Palace. On Friday evening, as the president and vice president were meeting to defuse the situation, some troops came to the meeting outside the Presidential Palace and killed about 150 troops.
Now there is uncontrolled fighting in various locations in Juba, and neither leader has been able to control the troops. It is so true that when “two elephants fight, the grass gets trampled.”
There is also the report that one of the Belanda Bor translators, Elias, has been killed in Wau town.
The situation in Wau (in the far west of South Sudan) stems from ethnic fighting. A few months ago, the central government restructured the state boundary lines in the country, creating more “states”. Very unfortunately, they redrew a boundary line west of Wau that then placed land traditionally used by some ethnic groups into a state controlled by another larger ethnic group. In April, there were reports of the larger group killing others in that new state to claim the land. Since that time, the violence has moved east toward Wau town and in June came into the town. We suspect that Elias, from a smaller ethnic group, was caught in this fighting.
There are UN forces located in Juba and in Wau.
The Genesis Cluster includes two groups (Belanda Bor and Bongo) that live just outside of Wau town. There is also the ‘Beli that live just south of Rumbek (which is in Dinka-land). [These three groups historically have been in direct conflict with the Dinka.]
The Reel live just east of Rumbek. The Mundari live just north of Juba town. The Lopit live east of Juba (by Torit).
SIL Sudan has a compound in Juba town (near the University). It is where the expatriate SIL personnel live and where numerous translation teams have their offices. The Genesis Cluster workshops are held at the SIL Centre. The central government buildings and Presidential Palace are within a short walking distance from the Centre. One must drive through critical parts of Juba town to get to the airport from the Centre.
The SIL South Sudan group is currently in the process of developing a full Bible project with the Dinka Rek people (which live near Wau town). The Dinka Rek church leaders are very keen to defuse the tension between the various people groups.
Please pray for peace and stability to return quickly. Pray for the protection and safety of our South Sudanese translators and their families living within the conflict areas. Pray that true resolution and reconciliation can take place between these forces so peace will become the norm in South Sudan. Pray for our SIL colleagues and the decisions they must make about their safety and a possible time to evacuate if necessary.