Shock and sorrow for partner JRS South Sudan

Jesuit Missions expresses their shock and concern for their partner Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in South Sudan who suffered from a vicious attack on their office and compound in Maban towards the end of July. JRS, along with other local aid agencies, were threatened by local protestors in Maban refugee camp in the north west of South Sudan, which hosts nearly 144, 000 Sudanese refugees. JRS supports both refugees and the host community through the provision of English classes and computer and teacher training

Fr Pau Vidal SJ (Country Director of JRS South Sudan) reports on the situation from Monday 23rd July 2018:

Today has been a bad day in Maban. Thank God that no life has been lost but the viciousness of the violence and destruction of property has been appalling. It was very well planned and clearly targeting only humanitarian assets and compounds. Some reports indicate more than 8 different agencies compounds have been heavily affected, more than 27 vehicles damaged. The rampage was mostly in the morning only.

Our main compound was spared (thanks to the intervention of the local church leadership) but our secondary compound, the Arrupe learning centre, was stormed and badly affected. Before the attack our staff there had deemed it not safe to stay and decided to seek refuge at the home of the local village leader next to our centre. Our English, computer and teacher training courses will take some time to pick up after this.

UNMISS (United Nations Mission in South Sudan) provided forced protection around 1.30pm and our staff staying in both compounds were extracted safely and taken to UNMISS along with and many other NGO workers where they will spend the night.

The morale of the team is low. The morning was frightening. But they are together and supporting one another. *Fr Tony SJ is proving to be a great leader in times of peace as well as during conflict.

Tomorrow morning more than 300 relocatable staff will be evacuated by UNHAS (United nations humanitarian air service) from Maban to the capital Juba some 600km away. A group of team leaders and critical staff will remain and sasses the situation. Fr Tony is going to make sure that all our 25 staff are relocated to Juba. He will remain behind with the colleagues from other agencies and monitor the situation.

*Fr Tony O’Riordan is an Irish Jesuit who has this year taken on the role of Project director of the JRS team within the camp.