South Sudan

South Sudan: Bishops call for urgent intervention as South Sudan is gripped by conflict and famine

Church leaders from South Sudan have called on the international community to assist millions of people who are facing starvation in the country. Bishops from England and Wales have backed their call for peace and urgent action to alleviate suffering and save lives.

In a pastoral letter released by the South Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference on 23 February 2017, the Bishops said:

“Our country is gripped by a humanitarian crisis – famine, insecurity and economic hardship. Our people are struggling simply to survive. While there have been poor rains in many parts of the country, there is no doubt that this famine is man-made, due to insecurity and poor economic management.

“Millions of our people are affected, with large numbers displaced from their homes and many fleeing to neighbouring countries, where they are facing appalling hardships in refugee camps.”

The Bishops called on the international community “for immediate and unconditional concrete intervention and action before thousands of innocent lives are carried away and before it is too late.”

Bishop William Kenney of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said:

“Having visited the country in the past few years, I commend the pastoral message from my brother Bishops in South Sudan. The South Sudanese people are suffering a brutal civil war, resulting in widespread violence, economic breakdown and famine. The world must wake up to this man-made humanitarian disaster. The violence must stop and the international community must intervene.

“Please remember the people of South Sudan in your prayers, support the famine relief and put pressure on our government to do their utmost to bring an end to the fighting.”

Aid agency CAFOD has scaled up its response to the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. Fergus Conmee, CAFOD’s Head of Africa, said:

“We will continue to support the life-saving activities of our Church partners in South Sudan and to do our utmost in responding to the enormous humanitarian challenges that have been with South Sudan since December 2013, and are worsening at this time.”

“To stop this disaster, the belligerents have to listen to the Bishops and come together to find a peaceful way of rebuilding a shattered country.”

The food security situation in South Sudan continues to deteriorate since the outbreak of fighting in December 2013. The humanitarian crisis has spiralled with more than three million people fleeing the conflict and seeking refuge in neighbouring countries or as internally displaced persons hosted by already poor communities across the country.

A famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan, with 100,000 people affected. It is feared that the number of people affected could rise to 5.5 million by July.

Notes to Editor:

  1. On 22 February 2017 Pope Francis made an appeal for South Sudan from the Vatican.

  2. From 1 April 2015 CAFOD and Trócaire started working in together in South Sudan, as CAFOD and Trócaire in Partnership. CAFOD and Trócaire both have a long history of working in South Sudan through church and non-church partners who support vulnerable people in communities, providing food, water and sanitation and supporting communities to earn a living through better farming methods.

  3. CAFOD’s South Sudan Appeal:

  4. CAFOD have spokespeople available in Juba and in London.

  5. For media enquiries please contact,

In London: Laura Ouseley,, +44(0)207 095 5479, +44(0)7909 875 956. CAFOD out-of-hours media hotline: +44 (0)7919 301 429

In Nairobi: To contact spokespeople based in Juba – please contact David Mutua, +254 (722) 896 315 Skype: david_mutua