Some of the internally displaced persons who met Pope Francis in Juba expressed fears of returning to their homes of origin, saying political leaders have reneged on their promises of securing lasting peace in the country.
“Our leaders have not implemented the peace agreement and everything they promised to do for the country,” said Maria Nyakoma, 16, who lives in the Juba protection of civilians’ site in an interview with The Juba Echo in Juba on Saturday.
Nyakoma was among thousands of IDPs who met with Pope Francis, Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Justin Welby, and Rt Rev Dr. Iain Greenshields, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland at Freedom Hall in Juba.
She appealed to the 86-year-old Pontiff to engage political leaders to create a conducive atmosphere for their return.
“What I want Pope to do for us is to at least pray for us because now the devil is working hard here in South Sudan to destroy us,” said Nyakoma who fled her home town of Bentiu in 2014.
The three eminent world religious leaders listened to the testimonies of displaced persons from Juba, Bentiu, Malakal, and Bor.
Ringo Gatluak, youth leader at Juba protection of civilian site, said they are grateful for the visit of the three religious leaders.
“As people of South Sudan, we are very happy and we hope that this meeting will bring peace in South Sudan,” said Gatluak.
“We the people of South Sudan especially the IDPs need peace and I am appealing to our leaders to work hard to restore stability in some parts of the country,” he added.
Some 27 civilians were killed on Thursday in Kajo Keji County of Central Equatoria State by aggrieved cattle keeper,s sparking fears of more violence on the eve of Pope’s visit to the country.
Amal Margret, working for Daughters of Mary Immaculate (DMI) Sisterly hailed Pope Francis for his visit of solidarity with the suffering people of South Sudan.
“We are so happy to meet Pope because of the expectations we are having, we really need to be peaceful in our communities and in our areas,” said Margret.
She expressed optimism of the papal visit inspiring South Sudanese to renew their faith in God.
“Life is not easy in the camps and with the coming of the Pope we put trust in God, and with his prayers I know things are going to be alright,” said Margret.
“Our message to the Pope and leaders of this country is that we need peace, so that our fellow brothers and sisters who are in the camp can return home,” she added.