South Sudan: Church Leaders Form COVID-19 Ecumenical Task Force

Andrew Kaufa,
smm – Nairobi, Kenya

The South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) has issued a pastoral statement on COVID-19. The SSCC also announced the formation of an ecumenical task force with the purpose of “complementing the efforts of the country’s National High-level Taskforce on COVID-19.”

The developments in South Sudan come amidst concern regarding the threat of the coronavirus pandemic spreading if not controlled. The Church leaders have observed that the pandemic has the potential to derail the progress of the peace process and undermine the stability of the nation.

In the statement, the Church leaders appeal to the people of South Sudan to observe public health measures, guidelines and directives put forward by the government and World Health Organisation (WHO).

The Church leaders express appreciation of “the quick action by the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU) in establishng the High-level Taskforce on COVID-19 to lead a sustained national response and intervention on prevention of this pandemic.”
They also appreciate the role played by donors, international and local partners in supporting the efforts of the government to address the challenge.

Announcing the formation of the SSCC taskforce on COVID-19, the Church leaders called upon the people of South Sudan to adhere to the direction and guidelines given by the authorities. They also reminded citizens that the country “is just emerging from a devastating civil war that almost tore us apart.”

The church leaders further call upon all religious networks, media houses and civil society organisations to educate the people in both urban and rural areas and “let them (people) know that the solution is with them.”

Encouraging the government to set aside more resources aimed at effectively facilitating a robust response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the country, the ecumenical association appealed to donor partners to support the world’s youngest nation.

“You have always stood with the people of South Sudan. You held our hand during our most trying moments. We plead with you to continue supporting us, more specifically in regard to preventing the spread and managing the trauma and impact of COVID-19,” reads part of the statement.

Issued, this week, the South Sudan Council of Churches’ statement bears signatures of the leaders of the ecumenical association which includes the chairperson of SSCC Bishop Arkanjelo Wanilemi and his deputy Right Rev. James Par Tap Hon, the Catholic Archbishop of Juba Most Rev. Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla, the primate of Episcopal Church of South Sudan Most Rev. Justin Badi Arama, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan Right Rev. Peter Gai Lual Marrow, the General Overseer of the South Sudan Pentecostal Church Bishop Dr Isaiah Majok Dau and of the Area Regional leader of the African Inland Church, Bishop William Muzee Weresen.

According to the latest United Nations report, despite the high number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), South Sudan has so far weathered the pandemic relatively well. Nevertheless, the number of people diagnosed with the coronavirus is increasing day by day.