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Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church member offers a glimpse into war-ravaged Sudan

Dr. Aida Weran speaks of the challenge of fulfilling basic needs like food and water

by Scott O’Neill | Presbyterian News Service

Dr. Aida Weran is pictured with her husband, the Rev. Yousif Matar Kodi. (Contributed photo)

LOUISVILLE — “We as Christians should stand in solidarity and pray for one another, but we also need to confront the people in government and not allow conflicting parties to use church venues and religious places in their fighting.”

This was the message Dr. Aida Weran wanted to convey to Presbyterians as she detailed what life is like in Sudan as a near-civil war continues to plague her native country. Weran, who is Dean of Office Affairs and professor at Nile Theological College and a member of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, also shared personal testimony around the current living conditions.

“It has been a real challenge for our daily needs like water and food supplies. My 15-year-old son was forced to stay indoors for two weeks before getting out of the house, and travel is hard,” said Weran.

“My brother and sister were among 11 or 12 family members who took three or four days before reaching our home area located in the eastern Nuba Mountains. Gangsters on motorbikes with masked faces and holding guns restrict travelers from getting to their destination. These gangsters will do one of three things if they catch you: kill you, rob you, or loot you for whatever you have.”

The nearly month-long battle has taken its toll on civilians and churches in Sudan. More than 500 people have been killed and more than 300,000 citizens displaced as fighting between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has intensified since it began on April 15. A proposed seven-day ceasefire (one of several) that began May 4 offers a glimmer of hope for civilians with the means to flee.

“With [a ceasefire] I can manage to buy food supplies, but it will also be good for us to move outside Khartoum,” Weran said. “Many have left and relocated to other places, so I think in a couple of days we will move as well.”

For those wanting to flee the capital city, access to funds for making the move is a challenge. Even for those fortunate enough to leave the fighting in the capital city, there is no guarantee for relief or escape to foreign soil.

“There is no bank. We can receive money from our accounts only if a relative or friend on the outside [has access] or you can get some cash from traders in the market. So, it’s not easy,” Weran said. “Life is almost completely frozen here in Khartoum.”

The extensive fighting has placed Sudanese churches squarely in the middle of the battle for power. Worship services have stopped and the bleak outlook for a peaceful solution has tested the faith of even the most ardent Christians.

“There is no way to go to church,” said Weran. “Our main churches are all around the main areas occupied by the military. They [churches] look like a military base and burn areas. But we do trust in the Lord and pray as a group. We must bear this hardship together as Christians.”

For those wanting to help the Sudanese people, Weran suggests reaching out to non-governmental organizations (NGO).

“The NGOs are working in various areas to help people. Many people, like me, aren’t drawing salaries or have the money to get out, so NGOs help people with those daily needs and support others to allow them to move.”

Sharon Kandel, PC(USA)’s regional liaison for the Horn of Africa, echoed Weran’s appeals and noted the Sudanese people will need help long after the fighting ends.

“Even if the new ceasefire holds, there are many people in need in Sudan. Those who have fled the country will need help in returning and rebuilding their lives. Prayers are needed for reconciliation among neighbors and families, for those who have lost loved ones, and for those who have lost hope for the future. Let us pray that the church can be a source of comfort, hope and reconciliation,” Kandel said.

Kandel invites contributions to the PC(USA)’s efforts to directly support partners in Sudan by making gifts to DR000097-Sudan, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance’s crisis response and recovery initiatives in Sudan.

To support advocacy efforts in the region, contributions can be made to E052152, the Presbyterian Ministry at the UN and the Office of Public Witness in Washington, D.C.

Here is a List of NGOs working in Sudan.

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