Cardinal and Bishop Swarbrick decry “tragedy of immense proportions” across Sudan

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and Bishop Paul Swarbrick (pictured), Lead Bishop for Africa, have written to the Sudan and South Sudan Catholic Bishops Conference as war rages in Sudan.

A conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces began in April 2023, and has resulted in 12,000 casualties, an estimated 9 million displaced, and 12.5 million urgently in need of humanitarian aid, with a catastrophic famine now looming.

Cardinal Nichols and Bishop Swarbrick expressed their solidarity in a letter to Cardinal Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla, Archbishop of Juba and president of the Sudan and South Sudan Bishops’ Conference, at a time of “profound distress”.

They wrote:

“We extend to you the prayerful support of the Church in England and Wales and to express our solidarity with you in your current circumstances of profound distress.

“We have heard your cry in your recent statement, in which you reminded the international community of the need for support to bring about an end to the civil conflict and allow for immediate humanitarian access to alleviate hunger across Sudan.”

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) found that nearly half of the country’s 25 million people are urgently in need of aid and assistance, and the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) has said there is widespread food insecurity.

Cardinal Nichols and Bishop Swarbrick wrote:

“We have paid attention to the most recent UN World Food Programme statement that nearly 18 million people are now facing acute food insecurity. This is a tragedy of immense proportions and caused primarily by conflict and violence.

“Please be assured that we will continue to remain in contact with our own Government urging them to increase their humanitarian and diplomatic efforts.

“We join our Holy Father, Pope Francis, in prayer that “paths to peace are soon found” and that there is an end to the unnecessary suffering.”

Pope Francis has consistently called for peace in Sudan, saying at the Angelus on 18th February:

“I once again ask the conflicting sides to stop this war, which is so harmful to the people and to the future of the country. Let us pray that paths of peace can be found soon, in order to build the future of dear Sudan.”

Speaking to diplomats at the Vatican on 8 January, the Holy Father said: “I would also like to bring up the tragic events in Sudan where sadly after months of civil war no way out is in sight, and the plight of the refugees in Cameroon, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.”