Joy and Excitement among Refugees a head of the Papal Visit to South Sudan

Joy and Excitement among Refugees a head of the Papal Visit to South Sudan

Joy and Excitement among Refugees a head of the Papal Visit to South Sudan

Fr. Isaac Ojok
The South Sudanese Refugees living in the refugee camps in Uganda are grateful and excited about the visit of the Holy Father Pope Francis to their country South Sudan.
Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in early February and he is expected to arrive in the Republic of South Sudan on Friday 3rd February 2023 in an Ecumenical pilgrimage which many are saying is focused on the restoration of peace in the war torn country.

After listening to the news about the Pope’s visit to South Sudan, the refugees living in Bidi Bidi Refugee settlement camps, Paluringa, Adjumani and other camps all in Arua diocese are excited that the visit of the pope is going to restore lasting peace to their mother land.

Rt. Rev Sabino Ocan Odoki the Bishop of Arua diocese the host to the refugees in an interview with Ugandan Catholics online correspondent when asked to comment about the Pope’s visit to South Sudan in relation to the situation of the refugees, he responded by saying the refugees are optimistic that the visit may bring unity, peace and love among the 64 different tribes in South Sudan.

Bishop Sabino further revealed that the visit of the Holy Father this time is a blessing to South Sudan as a nation and to the people particularly the refugees who are the victims of the endless war in the country.

As a Shepherd the bishop observed that the refugees are praying that with the coming of the Holy Father, true peace may return to South Sudan, the world’s youngest sovereign nation torn apart by the war.

He further informed Ugandan Catholics Online correspondent that priests (Missionaries of the Divine Word) and religious (Missionary Servants of the Holy Spirit) serving among the refugees in the Camps have organized for a trip to South Sudan to be present at the Pope’s visit to the country.

The Bishop mentioned that what is important for now is the hospitality being given to the refugees at the moment, the reason why the diocese opened new Vicariate to ensure spiritual welfare is facilitated.

Also during the interview, the bishop further revealed that apart from the visit of the Pope to South Sudan, arrangements are underway in Arua diocese to receive the Prefect for Evangelization of People Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle whose visit to the refugees is scheduled for September 2023.

Despite the hospitality being accorded, the South Sudanese refugees living in Uganda still yearns to return to their country since they have been separated for almost a decade as a result of war, but the return to their country can only happen in stages when peace processes have taken shape according to Bishop Sabino Ochan Odoki.

South Sudanese refugees fled to Uganda in 2013, when war broke out between the rival forces loyal to the current President His Excellency Salva Kiir Mayardit and the then Vice President Riek Marchar.

Since then, they have been integrated among the host communities following the Uganda’s open door policy on refugees that provides secure rights such as freedom of movement, access to employment, education and medical services among others.