The eruption of armed violence, a lack of food, and impending economic collapse have brought South Sudan to the brink of humanitarian crisis, United Church partners are reporting. Churches have played a critical role in maintaining peace in this young, fragile nation.

The country has been devastated by fighting between government forces supporting President Salva Kiir and opposition forces supporting First Vice-President Riek Machar, particularly in the capital city of Juba. Although a July 11 ceasefire seems to be holding, hundreds have been killed, with tens of thousands displaced.

Growing crowds of people are seeking protection, and church compounds are sheltering thousands who have fled their homes. Dr. Nigussu Legesse is the program executive for South Sudan for the World Council of Churches (of which the United Church is a member). He reports:

“About 40,000 people have been displaced…. The country is already on the brink of economic collapse. No wages have been paid to civil servants for months. Prices of food items have soared over the past days.”

Please join in prayer with the South Sudan Council of Churches and United Church partner KAIROS Canada, mourning those who have died and remembering those who have been displaced. Pray for an end to the violence and peace with justice.