Yei Cathedral again a refuge for families fleeing violence

Monday April 26th 2021

Displaced people gather around communal cooking pot in the grounds of Emmanuel Cathedral, Yei.

Connor’s partner diocese of Yei in South Sudan is awaiting news of the appointment of a new bishop, as the Church in Yei once again offers refuge to hundreds of internally displaced people (IDP).

Bishop Emeritus Hilary Luate Adeba, who retired as Bishop of Yei at the start of this year, is heading the Yei town emergency response team, aiming to support all those who have gathered in the grounds of Emmanuel Cathedral.

Church Mission Society Ireland (CMSI) has said that violence erupted in Ombasi Payam in early March, and more than 1,000 people were displaced into Yei town and sought refuge at the Cathedral. CMSI has been able to contribute £1,000 towards food and essential items for the IDP.

Writing on the CMSI website, Mission Partner Billy Smyth said that in the days following the escalation of unrest, there were violent attacks on the main road between Yei and South Sudan’s capital Juba in which at least nine people lost their lives.

“This is devastating as there hadn’t been many major outbreaks of violence for nearly a year and things seemed to be settling down,” Billy, who last visited Yei in February 2020, wrote.

“People had been returning home from refugee camps in Uganda and things seemed to be on the up, with traffic moving freely on the main roads. There are now over 1,000 displaced people including many women with small children gathering on the Cathedral compound in desperate need of shelter, food and water.”


Families taking refuge in the grounds of Yei Cathedral.

Families taking refuge in the grounds of Yei Cathedral.

Billy goes on to say: “These outbreaks of violence have caused such fear that some folk are even returning to the refugee camps in Uganda where, despite the harsh conditions and food scarcity, they feel a little safer.”

On a more positive note, CMSI reports that the principal of Yei Vocational Training Centre (VTC) has said enrolment has begun for courses commencing in May.

CMSI said: “Yei VTC and the whole Diocese of Yei suffered a great loss with the passing of the Rev Simon Gaga in March this year. Rev Gaga was chaplain and dear friend to Bishop Hilary, and he was well known by all who have visited Yei. Since the recent reopening of the VTC, Rev Gaga had been teaching the building class.”

CMSI expressed thanks to all who contributed towards a retirement gift for Bishop Hilary. “The bishop was overwhelmed and encouraged by your support and the funds (over £1,000) are being used to complete his retirement home,” CMSI said.

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