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Airlift for 2,000 Christians Trapped in Sudan

By Steve Evans, flickr.comThe Christian human rights group ‘Barnabas Aid’ followed through on their plans to airlift 2,000 Sudanese from Khartoum in Sudan to Juba, the capital of the recently formed South Sudan. Pray for the continued success of the humanitarian effort to rescue these Christian Sudanese who are stranded in a predominantly Muslim country.

In the early 1990s, official records of Sudan claimed that from the population of what then included South Sudan, 25% of people followed traditional religions and 5% were Christians. However, some news reports claim a Christian majority, and the US Episcopal Church claims the existence of large numbers of Anglican adherents from the Episcopal Church of the Sudan: 2 million members in 2005. Likewise, according to the World Christian Encyclopedia, the Catholic Church is the largest single Christian body in Sudan since 1995, with 2.7 million Catholics mainly concentrated in South Sudan. (from Wikipedia)

By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST Ministries, JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN (ANS), September 20, 2012

Barnabas Aid’s major operation to rescue 2,000 Christian women and children trapped in Sudan got underway on Thursday, September 19, 2012, with the first successful airlift to South Sudan.

A number of practical and bureaucratic obstacles that had delayed the start of the rescue mission have been overcome, enabling the first of 12 chartered flights to depart from Khartoum for Juba.

The second and third flights are scheduled for tomorrow, with more to be arranged in the days and weeks ahead.

Church and community leaders have identified the most needy and vulnerable Christians among the hundreds of thousands of Southerners trapped in Khartoum.

“We are flying approximately 800 women, around two-thirds of whom are widows, and 1,200 children to Juba. The cost per person is US$275,” said a spokesperson for Barnabas Aid.

“They will be welcomed at temporary reception facilities set up by the South Sudanese government before moving on to extended family connections around the country. The Church in South Sudan is ready to help with their practical needs.”

Endangered and impoverished

Many have made their own way to South Sudan, but hundreds of thousands remain trapped in a country that is increasingly hostile to their presence, and the Sudanese government has closed the border to prevent any more travelling to South Sudan by the river Nile.Christians of Southern origin remaining in Sudan are extremely vulnerable. They were stripped of their citizenship after the South voted to secede and were given a deadline to leave. President Omar al-Bashir has made it very clear that they are not welcome, repeatedly declaring his intention to make the country’s next constitution 100% Islamic and strengthen sharia law.

“Their vulnerability has intensified over the last week as violent Islamic protests against the film Innocence of Muslims rocked Sudan; several Western embassies in Khartoum have been attacked and threats made against Christians in the city,” said the spokesperson.

“As well as facing danger, the impoverished Southern Christians have been living in dire conditions in makeshift shelters on the outskirts of the capital for many months.”

Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said: “We are extremely thankful to the Lord that this rescue mission is now underway. He has gone before us and prepared the way, removing obstacles one by one. These vulnerable Christian women and children, who have endured so much hardship and suffering, can now look forward to beginning a new life in South Sudan.”

If you would like to donate towards this project, please go to: barnabasfund.org/donations

Photo by Steve Evans, flickr.com

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