JUBA (Reuters): After spending nearly a decade in a camp for the displaced in South Sudan’s Juba, Mayen Galuak hopes that Pope Francis’ visit to the capital city next week will inspire political leaders to finally restore peace, allowing him to go home.
The 44-year-old entered the UN camp, just a few kilometers from his residence, in search of safety three days after conflict broke out in 2013.
In the ensuing years, he has watched as South Sudan’s leaders forged peace deals and broke them; as militias carried out and denied ethnic massacres; and as relentless conflict pushed parts of the country into famine.
Pope Francis is due to go to Congo from Jan. 31 to Feb. 3 and then spend two days in South Sudan.
The pope has wanted to visit South Sudan for years but plans were postponed due to the instability there and a scheduled trip last June was canceled due to the pope’s knee ailment.
The Vatican’s envoy to the Democratic Republic of Congo has said the trip will remind the world not to ignore decades-long conflicts.
“We are in a bad situation … since 2013, we have not seen any good peace,” said Galuak, who says he can’t travel to his birth home in the country’s north because of the risk of attack. Sporadic clashes continue to kill civilians throughout the country.
South Sudan gained independence in 2011.