Episcopal Relief & Development is strengthening the crisis response of the Episcopal Church in South Sudan & Sudan (ECSSS) by providing financial and technical assistance to its humanitarian arm, SUDRA (the Sudanese Development and Relief Agency). Since February, SUDRA has provided food for 70,000 displaced people in the most critical areas where ECSSS is present. This includes a daily meal for 3,000 children in Awerial, cooked and served by volunteers from the local Mothers’ Union.
“I am thankful for our partnership with ECSSS, that we can actively support their mission of caring for vulnerable people and creating lasting peace in a region so deeply marked by conflict,” said Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Vice President of Programs. “Their long-term presence and history of strengthening communities has earned them trust across divisions, enabling them to act directly where few others could – both on the ground and at the highest levels.”
“I encourage all Episcopalians to be in solidarity with our partners in South Sudan, through prayer and by enabling Episcopal Relief & Development to continue supporting SUDRA’s vital work,” Nelson said.
On May 9, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori called for prayers for South Sudan and Sudan in a joint message of solidarity with the heads of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. Episcopal Relief & Development’s bulletin insert can be used to raise awareness and support for those most impacted by this crisis.
Episcopal Relief & Development serves as the key liaison with ECSSS and SUDRA for a group of Anglican and Episcopal Church agencies supporting the relief and recovery efforts. Planned activities over the coming months will bring urgently needed food aid to recently displaced people in Upper Nile, Unity, Jonglei and Bahr-el-Ghazal states. Although fighting is ongoing, SUDRA will also begin the necessary work of peace-building and reconciliation by providing trauma counseling and facilitating resettlement, in collaboration with the Church’s Justice Peace & Reconciliation Commission.
Renewed clashes broke out in South Sudan just days after President Salva Kiir and ex-vice president Riek Machar signed a new peace deal on May 9. The previous agreement, signed in January, also failed to end the current civil conflict, now in its fifth month. Altogether, UN OCHA estimates that 4.9 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance due to this crisis, and 1.3 million have been displaced, either inside the nation’s borders or in neighboring countries.
ECSSS and SUDRA work with partners across faith-based, government and non-government sectors, using local resources to respond to emergent and ongoing needs. During this time of crisis, a number of Church properties are serving as makeshift camps for displaced people and distribution points for food aid and other assistance. The ECSSS network of health clinics is responding to the overwhelming need for basic care and working to minimize the potential spread of respiratory and waterborne disease in the camps. Additionally, the Church has been a stabilizing presence during periods of turmoil, helping the previous civil war come to an end in 2005 and providing material and spiritual support to migrating populations during South Sudan’s peaceful separation from Sudan.
“Moving forward, our work with SUDRA will continue to focus on strengthening communities, reducing vulnerability in times of crisis and quickening recovery after events that disrupt daily life,” said Nagulan Nesiah, Program Officer for Episcopal Relief & Development. “Programs that increase access to health care and quality education, help crops tolerate extreme weather and empower people with business skills increase quality of life in the short-term and boost resilience in the long-term.”