Pope Francis has donated 460,000 euros (over $500,000) to aid troubled South Sudan after his visit to the country was postponed due to security fears. The Vatican said on Wednesday that the money will be used to finance health, agriculture projects and education.
Two hospitals will be financed: Wau Hospital in the Western Bahr el-Ghazal state and Nzara Hospital in the Diocese of Tombura-Yambio. The money will be provided to a school, and will be used for farm equipment to aid 2,500 families in growing crops.
“It is an initiative that is to foster, support and encourage the work of the various religious congregations and international aid organizations that are present on the territory and tirelessly work to help the population and to promote the process of development and peace,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson, who is in charge of “Pope for South Sudan” initiative. The project will coordinate with Caritas International.
“The Holy Father does not forget the unheard and silent victims of this bloody and inhumane conflict, does not forget all those people who are forced to flee from their homes because of abuses of power, injustice and war. He holds all of them in his prayers and his heart,” Cardinal Turkson announced in the press conference in The Vatican on Wednesday, 21 June.
Pope Francis was scheduled to visit South Sudan this year, but the visit was postponed because of security concerns after renewed violence. South Sudan descended into war after President Salva Kiir fired his deputy, starting a conflict in the country that has brought famine and poverty to the country, forcing an estimated 3.5 million people to flee their homes, with 2 million of them children.
It is hoped that the efforts of Pope Francis for South Sudan will encourage development of a coalition to reduce poverty and famine in the country. The recent international aid has led to incremental improvement in the country’s situation. The government has now lifted its ban on foreign journalists.