by Eva Gerritse, PAX
A diocese needs a bishop. In the beginning of March, a new bishop was finally installed in Torit, South Sudan, after the city had been without one for five years. Five years in which a lot has happened. Let’s go back a bit in time.
September 2017. The renewed violence in Juba, which broke out less than a year after the first peace agreement to end the civil war, had quickly spread to the south of the country. Torit, southwest of Juba, was turned into a ghost town within a few weeks. Many people fled to the camps in Uganda or into the bush. The market was deserted and the roads into and out of town were impassable.
For months, people in Torit hardly dared to walk the streets anymore for fear of violence, committed both by armed individuals and groups, by people in or out of uniform. When I was there in the fall of 2017, it was still very quiet. Together with our partner, Father John Opi of the Diocese of Torit, I was there to evaluate how the projects were going, to go through some administrative matters, and to discuss what it would take to continue the work. He had arranged a hotel close to the airplane landing strip, with a high wall around it, where we could have meals so that we didn’t need to go outside much. In the car, he pointed out the places where people had been shot a few weeks earlier. Fortunately nothing happened during my visit and the situation has improved since then. But at that moment the desolation and silence were prominent…