Yuba (EFE) on his second day of travel to the country.
«I express with all my strength, the most urgent appeal to cease all conflict, to seriously resume the peace process so that the aggressions end and people can return to live in a dignified manner. Only with peace, stability and justice can there be development and social reintegration. But we can’t wait any longer”, he said after hearing the testimonies of some children who live in the camps for displaced persons.
As the Pope recalled in the Freedom Hall of Juba, where he heard their testimonies, “a large number of children born in these years have only known the reality of the camps for displaced persons, forgetting their home environment, losing their link with their own land of origin, with the roots, with the traditions. There can be no future in the camps for the displaced”.
“It is necessary (…) that all young people have the possibility to go to school and also the space to play soccer,” Pope Francis told Johnson, one of the boys who presented his testimony.
Testimonies of displaced persons within the country
Johnson Juma Ale, 14, who came from the Malakal camp, told the pope: “I live in the countryside with my mother and father. They don’t have a job, but one of my uncles sends them help from Juba. When he sends me some money, I can buy clothes ».
“We want peace so that people can return to the city of Malakal, to their homes. Country life is not good because the area is small and crowded. There is not enough space to play football. Many children do not go to school because there are not enough teachers and schools for everyone”, he explained.
For his part, Joseph Lat Gatmai, 16, from the Bentiu camp, where he arrived at the age of 8, told the Pope that his life in the camp “is not pleasant.” “And he worries me what it will be like in the future, including the other children. Over the years, my parents, as well as other displaced families, have survived thanks to humanitarian aid. If there had been peace, I would have stayed at home, lived a better life, and enjoyed my childhood.”
The Pope vindicates the power of women in South Sudan
The Pope, who was initially going to visit one of these camps in South Sudan, but was unable to do so due to mobility problems, also stressed “that mothers, women are the key to transforming the country,” therefore who pleaded “to all the inhabitants of these lands that women be protected, respected, valued and honored. If not, there will be no future.”
He asked the displaced that “although the conflicts, violence and hatred have ripped away the good memories of the first pages of the life of this Republic, you are the ones who rewrite the history of peace.”
“I thank you for your strength of mind and all your gestures of good, which are so pleasing to God and make every day you live worthwhile,” he added.
In his speech, Francis also thanked the work of humanitarian organizations and stressed that “a country cannot survive with external aid, especially having a territory so rich in resources; but now such aid is extremely necessary.
And he honored the many humanitarian workers who have lost their lives, urging “to respect the people who help and the support structures for the population, which cannot be the object of assaults and vandalism.”