Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation

Sudan, the conflict worsens but the Comboni Missionaries relaunch assistance and education

Città del Vaticano 24.05.2024 Marco Guerra Translated by: Jpic-jp.org

The international community denounces the levels of violence reached in Darfur and the risk of famine that grips the entire country. In Port Sudan, the Church continues to support hundreds of thousands of refugees and the courses at the Comboni College have been reactivated. Father Stonfer says: 'Inflation aggravates the food crisis but students in our schools are doing well'.

The students, the school, the buzz of the packed classrooms, the religious services attended with "great joy" and the charitable work. On his return to Sudan ten days ago, Father Norberto Stonfer, a Combonian missionary of Italian origin, rediscovered the atmosphere of the Comboni College of Khartoum that he had left on the eve of the civil war, which broke out in April 2023, to go for treatment in Italy.

The move to Port Sudan

"Within the walls of the Catholic college, it does not feel like being in a country at war," says the cleric, "if it were not for the fact that the entire university has moved to Port Sudan," along with most of the clergy who animated the Church in the capital Khartoum. Father Norberto responds to Vatican Radio-Vatican News from the Sudanese port city on the Red Sea, which, since the outbreak of the conflict between the army and the rebel Rapid Support Forces (RSF), has been home to hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing the fighting and to many facilities of the Sudanese Church.

The resilience of Christians

Port Sudan has become the de facto country capital and here the Church offers assistance to displaced people, while the Combonians have resumed the activities, both in presence and online, of the Comboni College of Khartoum. In the same school complex, Father Norberto informs, there are also the Sisters of Mother Teresa (Missionaries of Charity) who take care of refugees in particular, and the Indian Sisters of the Visitation who run the kindergarten, primary schools and Intermediate, i.e., secondary school but only for girls.

Within this framework, the effort to support Sudanese displaced persons who have arrived in the coastal city has increased considerably. Father Norberto confirms the scarcity of food resources and housing for all. Despite the difficulties, the Combonian nevertheless reports the resilient spirit of the fleeing Christian communities: “Before returning to Sudan, I spent four months in Egypt, where Sudanese Christian refugees are animating and strengthening local parishes.”

Comboni College courses are operating

The Combonians in Port Sudan have therefore reactivated the courses at the Comboni College. The nursing course, which guarantees the transmission of skills to local health personnel, is very important and appreciated. The Combonian College has also opened a place of care for the terminally ill.

The high prices, according to Father Norberto, aggravate the situation. “Suffice it to say that on my return,” he recounts, “I found that the price of eggs had risen tenfold and meat had also risen exponentially in cost.” Finally, the missionary spares a thought for that part of the Catholic clergy that still manages to carry out its ministry in the areas most affected by the war, such as Darfur and the city of Omdurman.

The conflict in Darfur escalates

On the ground, the conflict that erupted in April 2023 continues, which has so far left at least 15,000 dead and 9 million internally displaced persons and refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries in the region. Darfur, the capital Khartoum and the neighbouring city of Omdurman are the areas most affected by the fighting between the army commanded by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). On Sunday, the British Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, said that violence in Sudan's Darfur region had reached levels amounting to crimes against humanity. The fiercest clashes in recent days are in El-Fasher, where at least 58 civilians are reported killed and 213 others injured since last week. Also in recent days, the UN has warned that 25 million people, or half the population of Sudan, are in need of humanitarian aid but that the funds allocated by the international community are insufficient. The UN warned that it had received only 12% of the $2.7 billion requested, adding that 'famine is approaching'.

See, Sudan, si aggrava il conflitto ma i comboniani rilanciano assistenza e istruzione

Photo. Father Norberto at the end of a religious ceremony celebrated with refugees in Port Sudan

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