TT he Seventh-Day Adventist Church in South Sudan hosted more than 10,000 refugees as the world’s youngest country faces civil unrest.
After the war broke out in South Sudan on July 8, an influx of 7,530 people flooded the compound owned by the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in South Sudan. The number of refugees in the compound reached over 10,000.
The fighting in Juba broke out at the presidential palace, known as J1, when president Salva Kiir, the 1st vice president Dr. Riek Machar and vice president James Wani Igga were meeting to discuss the security situation and other issues related to the implementation of the “Comprehensive Peace Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan” signed in August 2015. The fighting at J1 spilled to other areas in the outskirts of Juba city. The areas where the fighting was concentrated include Gudele, Checkpoint on the road to Yei, Munuki and Tongping within the city.
The Adventist Church was able to open its gates for the people of God to find shelter and protection. ADRA, the humanitarian arm of the Church, responded through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) by giving emergency food to the population. The foods distributed included sorghum, flour, oil, sugar and salt.
People from near and far flocked to the compound. The refugees occupied verandas, offices and the parking areas. Even church officers and pastors’ buildings were shared with the displaced people.
The war has displaced more 42,000 people, Currently 33,000, including earlier Internally Displaced Persons from 2013, are sheltered at the UN compound while others are sheltered in churches in Juba. The fighting at the J1 has killed 300 soldiers and 33 civilians. The total casualties are yet to be confirmed.
The situation in Juba has calmed down in recent though people are still evacuating their families out of the city by road and air.