This is an update about the conditions in South Sudan from Bro. Bernhard Hengl. Originally from Germany, Bro Bernhard lives and works in South Sudan as Project Coordinator and Fundraiser of the Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference.
June 6, 2015 - Greetings from Juba, the new compound of the Catholic University, where I shifted my office a few days ago from the Major Seminary, as the rooms I occupied were urgently needed.
Current situation in the country: As you are well aware the young Nation of South Sudan is on the verge of falling apart, as Bishop Santo stated strongly the other day, when I had breakfast with him. The Government is without money, the Soldiers, the Police are not paid. The country slips into anarchism!
David, my Draftsman, brought on Wednesday a truck containing 28-tons of steel from Kampala, needed for the heavy reinforcement (black-cotton!) of the floating concrete-slap of the lecture-hall-blocks at the Catholic University of South Sudan. He was stopped 7 times from Serekat (Gumbo) to the bridge of Juba (5 km) and had to pay every single time just to be allowed to drive on by the traffic police. After the bridge David wanted to branch to the left, towards Kator (Cathedral), where heavy trucks are supposed to pass. But the police forced them to drive on straight. Not even 100 meters ahead three traffic policemen stopped them vigorously, demanding $400 as a fine. Charge: they had used a wrong road.
I ordered them not to pay, so the truck was taken to the Police station. While they were at the police station I arrived and loudly accused the officers of setting up a trap. Further I told them that they only care about their own belly and that they would not care for their own suffering children, mothers, and older parents! I told them that they should be ashamed of themselves. They then threatened to handcuff me, beat me up, lock me up!
To cut it short, I left the police station, telling them that I would be coming back with Bishop Santo, with whom they could speak in Arabic. While having a cup of coffee with Santo, I received an SMS from David saying that they had been released. No money was charged! A fuel-truck, driven by a Somali, which was behind our truck with the same fate, was also released. He was very happy and grateful to us!
We experience similar issues nearly every single day with our pickup or with the lorries who are supplying us with sand, aggregate, and murram! Some are very nasty experiences especially for the drivers!
The cost of Maize, Beans, Oil, Sugar, and other food has doubled, even tripled, during the last three months only. How can we expect the people to feed their children, cloth them, pay their house rent, buy river water, pay for malaria treatment or even send their children to school?
People in Upper Nile, Unity State, are in the most desperate situation. So many of the children and women were killed during the last two weeks. Thousands were running to the UN-Camps seeking refuge. Whoever can afford to, is trying to leave the country - often via the Nuba Mountains, as I learned from Fr. Mathew Pagan (CU of SS) yesterday night, especially many Shilluks. The same was affirmed by Bishop Daniel Adwok, Kosti, who asked me a few days ago to help him transfer some money from Italy.
Many building sites have closed down, because of the high material prices, completely disproportional to the Dollar-rate. The same applies to a number of shops.
EUR is valued lower than the Dollar on the market.
This fact makes me to lose out greatly on some projects.
Through the help of my family and friends I was able to receive help of around 85.000 EUR during my stay in Germany. This money is now all spent with needs for families all over South Sudan and Sudan, but also for famine in Machakos area in Kenya, or floods in Malawi and India, where families lost everything and where I have friends.
Emergency-relief for Upper Nile (Sr. Elena)
Since I returned from Germany, we were able to implement three projects in Upper Nile, Panyikang and Pijii Counties (south and southwest of Malakal). In spite of all the challenges and insecurity we managed to get all the items via boats to people in the villages. The help of God was apparent in the operation, as Sr. Elena (Malakal) a number of times said. Only the other day we managed to send an amount of 18.800 SSP to Malakal. That was all I could afford.
I am urgently appealing SRF for some funds as, because of the rainy season, people are in need of blankets, tarpaulins, but also for seeds and tools, in order to be able to produce their own food, even in the bush were they are hiding.
Brother Bernhard Hengl
Project Coordinator and Fund Raiser of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’Conference
Juba – South Sudan
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