By Murcadha O Flaherty and John Newton
CHRISTIAN children in Sudan’s refugee camps are not receiving food unless they say Islamic prayers, according to reports received by sources close to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.
A contact, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons, described how Christian refugees from South Sudan are “in a terrible situation” in refugee camps in Sudan.
Speaking of the plight of child refugees in Sudan, the ACN source said: “We have heard stories where children are conditioned to say Islamic prayers before [being] given food. This is not right. These children are Christian. They should be respected for that.”
The source, who estimates that 700,000 South Sudanese Christians are refugees in Sudan, added: “The majority are left in camps, some in a very terrible situation.
“They are confined in those places. They are not allowed to go further north to the cities.”
ACN also received reports that it is hard for refugee families to survive on food provided by the government.
A monthly food parcel for a family lasts little more than two weeks – leading parents to seek provisions in the local market.
ACN was told items provided by the UN are sold in the market – many still in wrappers marked with UNICEF or UNHCR logos.
The charity’s source went on to say that the Khartoum government has hampered charities seeking to provide urgent assistance to the camps, preventing them from overseeing emergency help.
He said: “We have heard the story that the government does not allow any other agencies to give support including the Church agencies.
“The government knows very well that the Church is the body in the world that supports enormously the needy around the world.
“The Muslim community have a charity, so the Christians have a charity, so that possibility should be given so that the people are supported.”
He said he identifies with the suffering families especially as he was a refugee as a boy.
Referring to visits to displaced families in South Sudan, the source said: “I tell them I was once a refugee like you – that was not the end of the road… yet still I can now contribute something positive to society.”
Describing people being forced to leave their country, he compared refugees to the young Jesus Christ who fled with his parents to Egypt as a child, adding: “We call on humanity to have heart [for] refugees.
“Refugees should be given genuine respect, dignity and their rights should be respected.
“Never mistreat a refugee because you never know what tomorrow holds.”
The source’s comments come amid reports of increasing persecution against Christians in Sudan with the regime reportedly intensifying its Islamising agenda.
In May 2017 a source who also requested anonymity for security reasons, told ACN: “Churches [in Sudan] are destroyed but it’s claimed to be just town planning. The Church is not allowed to buy property.”
At about the same time, a Sudan Church source told ACN: “Churches are being torn down each month – you never hear that about mosques.”
Reports also note that Church leaders are increasingly concerned about Sudan’s intolerance aimed at Christian women.
In June 2015, 12 Christian women were arrested as they left a church for wearing trousers or skirts which were seen as “indecent or immoral dress”.
Aid to the Church in Need is a Pontifical Foundation directly under the Holy See. As a Catholic charity, ACN supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in need through information, prayer, and action.
Founded in 1947 by Fr Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope St John Paul II named “An outstanding Apostle of Charity”, the organisation is now at work in 140 countries throughout the world.
Undertaking thousands of projects every year, the charity provides emergency support for people experiencing persecution, transport for clergy and lay Church workers, Child’s Bibles, media and evangelisation projects, churches, Mass stipends and other support for priests and nuns and training for seminarians.
Aid to the Church in Need UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1097984) and Scotland (SC040748). ACN’s UK office is in Sutton, Surrey and there is a Scottish office in Motherwell, near Glasgow and another office based in Lancaster that covers the North-West.
Please always acknowledge Aid to the Church in Need as the source when using our material.
For more information, contact Senior Press Officer Dr John Newton on 020 8661 5167 or ACN Press and Digital Media Officer Murcadha O Flaherty on 020 8661 5175