Salisbury Diocese launches emergency appeal for South Sudan

(AP Photo/Mackenzie Knowles-Coursin)A man carrying his belongings stands amongst the remains of buildings destroyed by the recent fighting, after government forces on Friday retook from rebel forces the provincial capital of Bentiu, in Unity State, South Sudan Sunday, Jan 12, 2014.

The Diocese of Salisbury has launched an appeal to support the South Sudanese Church as it works to relieve the needs of people caught up in fighting, and support long-term reconciliation.

A report published last week by Médecins Sans Frontières says that the speed and scale of the violence over the past six weeks in South Sudan has escalated dramatically, and although a ceasefire is in place in parts of the country, conflict still reigns supreme in others.

Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, has spoken out about the crisis and visited the country this month.

Preaching to Christians at All Saint's Cathedral, Juba, he urged support for "the long and hard work" of reconciliation in the country.

His visit has taken on an increased significance in the light of South Sudan's recent tragic events and he was able to glimpse the full extent of the horrors in person, driving Bor, where there had been 250,000 people living at one point, and seeing dead bodies on the near-empty streets were almost empty. When he arrived at St Andrew's Cathedral, he blessed a mass grave before the bodies of 20 clergy and lay workers were laid inside.

The Diocese of Salisbury is linked to the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, and said that two weeks ago it had received an email from Bishop Hilary Garang saying he had never known so much death and violence.

The Episcopal Church is working on the ground to end the crisis and supporting people affected by the violence through its development arm, the Sudan Relief Agency (SUDRA).

The Diocese of Salisbury has already sent £13,500 to meet immediate needs and is running an appeal until Easter to raise additional funds in support of the response being coordinated by the Episcopal Church and SUDRA.

The funds raised will be shared between responding to the immediate humanitarian response, followed later by more targeted projects to rebuild lives and livelihoods, and ensure long-term stability in the world's youngest country.

Last year marked the 40th anniversary of the Diocese of Salisbury's partnership with the Episcopal Church of the Sudan and South Sudan.

Around £240,000 was sent by the diocese last year in support of the Church's work, including £90,000 towards medical care.

The Salisbury Diocese is asking local Anglicans to give generously to the appeal.

"The people of Wiltshire and Dorset, Poole and Bournemouth have taken the Sudanese to heart and will want to contribute to meet their needs now," the diocese said.

Donations can be made online at