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A Day of Prayer and Peace for South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo
February 22, 2018

A Day of Prayer and Peace for South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo
A newly arrived refugee from DRC meets with a case worker who conducts a basic needs assessment at the JRS Kampala office. (Kevin White - Jesuit Refugee Service)

22 February 2018 - Tomorrow, on the Friday of the first full week of Lent, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) invites you to join a day of prayer and peace for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. Pope Francis has called on all Catholics to pray and fast and has invited members of other religions to join the effort in whatever way is suitable to their practice. 

"Faced with the tragic protracted situations of conflict in different parts of the world, I invite all the faithful to take part in a special Day of Prayer and Fasting for Peace," said Pope Francis as he invited everyone, in our own way, to participate. 

JRS works daily with people who have been forced to flee violence in both South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). JRS has served and accompanied displaced people - both refugees and internally displaced - from both of these regions, and we know the need for peace is dire. 

In countries where JRS serves, like Uganda, JRS is seeing a significant influx of refugees from the DRC. More than 42,000 Congolese refugees have been received since January, with an average of 849 refugees fleeing from DRC to Uganda per day, and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) anticipates that number will continue to climb. Meanwhile, Uganda keeps receiving and hosting over a million refugees who have fled from South Sudan, a region which also continues to see political unrest and protracted violence. 

Behind these numbers too large to fully grasp there are men, women, and children with remarkable resilience. One of those people is Arbert, a 43 year-old Congolese asylum seeker, who fled from Bukavu, DRC with his wife and six children. Arbert, fled to Uganda after being tortured, having his life threatened and his family experiencing violence. Since arriving in Uganda, his journey has not been easy. The emotional toll that the violence and fleeing took on both him and his wife have led to challenges in employment and health. There is still much to do to heal the emotional wounds that the violence in DRC caused to Arbert and his family, but after meeting with JRS, Arbert is working to heal by receiving counseling as a torture survivor, and JRS was able to assist in meeting some of his material needs. 

"The need for peace is great," says Father Kevin White, S.J., Country Director of JRS Uganda. "In Uganda, as we serve refugees through emergency assistance, education, psychosocial, and pastoral support, we are acutely aware of the destruction that violence has caused in both the DRC and in South Sudan. JRS Uganda joins Pope Francis and all who observe this day for prayer and fasting for peace in South Sudan and the DRC and remains grateful to all those who support the mission of accompanying, serving, and advocating every day for thousands of our brothers and sisters in need. We hope tomorrow brings attention to those innocent refugees we serve, and peace to those in these war torn regions." 

Help JRS to continue to serve people who have been forced to flee their homes in the DRC and in South Sudan. Click here to make a donation.

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