Home National Pope Francis Set to Visit South Sudan and DR Congo

Pope Francis Set to Visit South Sudan and DR Congo

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Pope Francis holds the weekly general audience at the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, March 2, 2022. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

The pope’s visit coincides with the 11th independence anniversary of South Sudan, a predominantly Christian country.

Pope Francis will visit South Sudan in July after repeatedly delaying his trip due to security concerns in a country still emerging from a post-independence civil war.

A statement from the Vatican on Thursday said the pope would be in South Sudan July 5-7 after visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo July 2-5 on the same trip.

In South Sudan, he will visit the capital, Juba, and in the DRC, he will visit Kinshasa and Goma.

In July 2011, South Sudan officially split from Sudan, but civil war erupted two years later, causing 400,000 deaths. The two main sides signed a peace deal in 2018.

Analysts say that while the peace deal halted horrific violence, there are several unresolved issues such as stalled reunification of the national army that could plunge the country back into widespread conflict.

For years, the pope has wanted to visit South Sudan – a predominantly Christian country – but the trip has been repeatedly postponed because of the instability there.

In 2019, Pope Francis hosted South Sudan’s opposing leaders at a Vatican retreat where he knelt and kissed their feet as he urged them not to return to conflict.

A report published last month by the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think-tank, urged East African leaders to press President Salva Kiir and his rival, Vice President Riek Machar, to resume negotiations on the issues that could spark more fighting.

Though the capital Juba is firmly under the control of the Kiir-led government and no clashes between rival securities factions have recently been reported there, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) frequently reports on incidents of fighting and crimes against civilians in many parts of the country.

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This week, UNMISS and the UN Human Rights Office published a report on the deaths of more than 400 civilians during fighting last year between two rebel groups in Tambura County, Western Equatoria State.

Meanwhile South Sudanese warriors have killed two people and raid with 108 heads of cattle in Lawiyeoduny village, Madi Opei Sub County in Lamwo district on Saturday.

David Ongom Mudong, the Aswa River Region Police Spokesperson identified the deceased as Joseph Okello (48), and Denis Oroma (38), all residents of Oryang cell in Lukee ward, Madi Opei town council.

Mudong said that reports indicate that the deceased had gone to graze their cattle in the bush when they were attacked and brutally murdered by the warriors.

According to Mudong, a report from one Edward Okeny who is believed to have escaped the attack indicates that the warriors who were armed with pangas, knives, bows, and arrows attacked and killed the two and later made off with their cattle across the porous border into South Sudan.

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Jolliebest Kasajja is a Ugandan Photo Journalist, Influencer, Photo and Videographer, Nnews Editor and Critic for African Politics.