by Timothy Elphiek SUDANESE government forces are bombing towns and villages in the south of the country in a campaign of mindless terror and destruction, Bishop Paride of Torit charged this week in London.
Bishop Taban, the only Catholic bishop in an area the size of Great Britain, said that conditions M his diocese had improved significantly since Torit finally fell to the rebel Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in February last year.
But sporadic attempts by the government to terrorise the
people by aerial attacks on civilian targets left the population too frightened to live in the urban areas, and created a situation so unstable as to make progress towards economic and social reconstruction impossible.
"Just last week the government bombed Nimula, one of my parishes on the Ugandan border 100 miles from Torii,– Bishop Taban claimed. "They will bomb anything they think is a town — even white rocks in the mountains," he said. And Torit itself was attacked in June when 25 bombs were dropped on the town from high altitude.
The bishop stressed the necessity for the international community to help rebuild what the war has destroyed and relieve the additional burdens placed upon the war-torn southern Sudan by the absence of rains so far this summer. "There is no development, no industry, nothing," he said.
Bishop Taban is working to re-establish the church in the aftermath of the year-long siege of his see, during which he steadfastly stuck by his people and refused to leave the beleagured city. The war has now moved west and the fate that befell Torit has now taken hold of Juba, beseiged since the beginning of the year.
In an attempt to revive long abandoned aid programmes in areas where some development is now possible, Bishop Taban helped found the New Sudanese' Council of Churches, uniting the local churches in the effort.
"The people ask, has the church forgotten us?" Bishop Taban reported. "We can tell them that we have not, and that as the focal church we have offered our tears, our blood and our sweat for them. But for material things we must beg from our partners overseas." The international relief agency CAFOD is helping to raise funds.