“Being forced to flee your home doesn’t just mean losing the roof over your head. It’s about losing your connection to your family, to your source of income (your fields, your place of work), it’s about losing access to the network of people around you who you would normally turn to in times of hardship… Once you have fled immediate danger, you may still experience discrimination and further abuse. These are some of the factors which make displaced populations particularly vulnerable.” – United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Rhetoric we read in the news often tends to dehumanize people who are “displaced”. But they are real and they are defenseless. The vast majority of them are women and children. They can no longer live in their homes. They have been exiled, banished, ousted and disposed of due to the horrific conditions in the communities where they lived. Today that is happening to 3.4 million South Sudanese men, women and children.
1.9 million “internally displaced” South Sudanese have not crossed a border to find safety. Unlike refugees, they are on the run at home. Many remain close to, or have become trapped in, zones of conflict. They risk being caught in the crossfire. They also risk experiencing hatred, revenge attacks and violence. They are among the most helpless people in the world.
1.5 million “refugees” have fled South Sudan to neighboring countries. The majority are living in camps or resettlement centers. While living conditions are often challenging, today’s refugees do receive food, basic shelter, medical supplies and logistical support. Their security is greatly improved over those who remain in-country as they are further away from the violence which forced them to leave their homes. The UN has found that those who don’t seek shelter in camps either take refuge with host families and communities or they move to cities where they blend into impoverished urban zones. Whichever route they go, these are people who have fled their homes and left all of their support structures behind, often having extensive needs that are hard to trace.
We are called on as Christians to care for these people. Children who are left orphaned, separated from their parents, homeless and severely traumatized. Women who are invisible to the world, desperate to care for their children but at risk of violence. Men who are unable to provide for their families; many who were distinguished at home but are now defenseless. Every one of them has a story, a hope, and a dream.
Will you join us today in praying for them?
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” – 2 Corinthians 4:8-11