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Bishop: the world is ignoring the massacre of my people

Bishop Gassis celebrates Mass in exile in Kenya in 2005 (CNS photo by Deacon Greg LaFreniere, Long Island Catholic)

A Sudanese bishop has said the world has forgotten people in his diocese, where thousands have sought shelter from a government bombing campaign and aid agencies cannot gain access.

Bishop Macram Max Gassis of El Obeid, Sudan, said “there is an ongoing forgotten massacre on the Nuba Mountains” where “people are dying of starvation and bombings”.

Bishop Gassis’s diocese straddles a border area of Sudan and South Sudan. For months, the Sudanese government has been fighting the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North in the South Kordofan state.

Bishop Gassis told Fides, the Vatican missionary news agency, in February that “even the Church has had its victims”.

He told Fides that none of the priests, religious or medical personnel had abandoned the people, despite the constant bombardment and seeing the “mangled bodies of civilians, especially children”.

Sudan has allowed only a limited amount of aid into the area, and on February 14 the UN Security Council, expressing “deep and growing alarm with the rising levels of malnutrition and food insecurity”, called on the government to let it send aid workers to South Kordofan and other states along the Sudan-South Sudan border.

Bishop Gassis expressed concern over increasing tensions between the neighbouring countries. He said South Sudan did not want war, but Sudanese President Omar Bashir “tries to solve problems with new wars”.

Sudan accuses South Sudan of backing the SPLM-North in its efforts to overthrow the Sudanese government.

Bishop Gassis also noted that South Sudan has closed off its oil supplies to the North. South Sudan produces 350,000 barrels of oil per day, but the only pipeline to market runs through Sudan. The two countries sent representatives to Ethiopia to negotiate the oil situation.