Background to the troubles.
Amidst much celebration and high hopes for the future, South Sudan gained its independence on 9 July 2011, However, two and a half years later, on 15 December 2013, fighting between rival factions in the South Sudanese Army. This continued in and around Juba for the next three days and many people were killed and wounded. The main hospital, which has 130 beds, had 1,000 in-patients.
Though the fighting in Juba stopped after three days, inter-tribal conflict had been sparked by what had occurred and this has continued in most of the 10 states in the country, especially in Unity and Upper Nile States. Many thousands of people have been killed and over 1.8 million displaced from their homes. Many are sheltering in UN camps. Because of the conflict 2.2 million people are suffering from the widespread famine. The normal harvest has greatly reduced and it is difficult for NGO’s and the UN to distribute food. In addition the South Sudan currency is in freefall and this rampant inflation has further put up the prices of already scarce food and resources.
For over 2 years efforts have been made to form an interim Government of Unity, representative of all of South Sudan’s tribal groups. These efforts were still in progress when further trouble erupted in Juba on 7 July 2016, two days before the fifth anniversary of independence. Fighting broke out between soldiers loyal to the President and those loyal to the Vice President. YThis time over 270 people in Juba were killed and many more wounded. One area of the town called Jebel, was devastated by artillery fire. Throughout the town, people hid in their homes or sheltered with friends. The Headmaster’s home was in Jebel and he and his wife and child moved into the School. Mercifully his home was not damaged or broken into. There was widespread looting in the town.
The Africa Union are seeking to mediate and the South Sudan Council of Churches has issued an urgent call for repentance and a true commitment to peace and reconciliation.
The School. Following the eruptions of violence in the town, the School was closed, in 2013 for 2 weeks, straddling the Christmas holidays, and in 2016 for one week. At all other times the students have been going to and from School, smartly turned out as usual. We give thanks to God that JDMSS is functioning so well and is a beacon of normality and of hope for the future.